Earn passive income with cryptocurrency mining.
In 2020, I built an Ethereum mining rig.
I have what I’d call a surface-level background in technology.
I’m not a computer scientist or engineer by any means. I worked at an Apple store during undergraduate and graduate school and enjoy tech from a hobbyist standpoint. That’s about it.
Building a cryptocurrency mining rig was not something I took lightly. I did my research, asked questions, joined forums, and watched videos. Plus, there was plenty of trial and error along the way.
You can read about how I built the Ethereum mining rig here.
This post, however, is about the why behind it.
I mention the “why” briefly in my original how-to post.
But, I was mainly just excited to share my newfound sense of accomplishment and focused more on writing a guide to building an Ethereum mining rig, complete with a parts list.
COVID changed everything, for everyone.
That’s probably the understatement of the decade but it’s true.
2020 was a wakeup call.
I wanted to do things differently, to build things, and to be more intentional with my time at home.
In 2019, I got married.
We celebrated our first anniversary in the summer of 2020. In many ways, we were so fortunate to have married when we did.
We also found ourselves getting to know each other and our interests on a whole new level thanks to the global pandemic. If there’s a silver lining to such a rough time for the world, that’s it.
We spent more time together, with family, and in our new home.
I should also note that the home is a condo with just enough square footage to accommodate my mining endeavor in one corner of a room.
A Time for Self Reflection
In one of my religious studies classes in college, the professor asked us to observe our hands throughout the day.
What were they doing?
What did they touch?
How active were they?
What did they put in your mouth?
What gestures did they make?
It was an exercise in self reflection.
COVID is kind of like a master class in self reflection — for the world and for everyone in it. Society was, and still is, doing its fair share of reflection and I wanted to do mine.
To me, idle time is an opportunity for growth.
COVID was a chance to observe, closely, what I was doing with my time off work. Remote work meant flipping a switch between personal and professional life.
It was easy to notice what I either did physically or what I gave my attention to when I was off the clock. The immediate switchover from work to home makes it very clear where your focus goes.
I have some habits, like running, that are part of my routine whether or not there’s a global pandemic.
Now though, I wanted to do something I‘d never done before.
This is by no means a post about investing in cryptocurrency.
It’s not financial advice or a promo for Ethereum.
You might own some Bitcoin, Ethereum, or another crypto.
I mainly hold Bitcoin and Ethereum and was fortunate enough to be paying attention to the space several years ago—although not enough to create life changing wealth.
The combination of COVID forcing me to be at home and my already established interest in the cryptocurrency space brought me to a new project idea — build an Ethereum mining rig.
Have you ever built something?
Have you ever run a marathon or earned a certification or degree that you’ve worked really hard for? Maybe you’ve learned to cook.
There’s a deep sense of satisfaction that comes with putting that thing together for the first time or seeing everything come together.
You probably know what I’m talking about.
It’s difficult to put into words but it’s there — you know it, that sense of satisfaction and accomplishment.
A true pat on the back feeling.
It’s a buzzword at this point — passive income.
Earning passive income is probably one of those phrases everyone would love to dominate search engine optimization with.
Let’s focus on what it is for a moment because that was another primary driver for my building a cryptocurrency mining rig.
Passive income is a source of income that requires little to no effort to sustain. Now, in my case, it required a good amount of effort to get my Ethereum mining rig up and running.
Once the cryptocurrency mining rig was up and running though, it’s more passive income than anything else. It’s easy to check on and maintain.
There’s troubleshooting, cleaning, or upgrades that need to take place, but it has without a doubt become a source of passive income.
Mining Ethereum at home was the perfect hobby to generate passive income for a few key reasons.
The first being that I believe in cryptocurrency — at least Bitcoin, what it represents, and what I hope Ethereum and some other cryptocurrency projects can also become.
The second reason being that it’s very sustainable — you can set it and forget it. I’ve simplified things so that my mining rewards are depositing directly into my primary cryptocurrency wallet.
It’s easy to check on and recognize if something isn’t working right. The hardest parts of the process were the research that went into it, waiting around for the parts to arrive, and the actual assembly.
The project mixes my personal interests with something that is both financially worthwhile and scalable.
I’ve upgraded the Ethereum mining rig since I first got it up and running. It earns more than it first did and maintains a small yet efficient physical and electric footprint in our home.
For context, the mining rig is more or less equivalent, in terms of electric costs, to a refrigerator. This varies depending on the type of rig that you build but I found a sweet spot that I was comfortable with.
You don’t become wealthy just because you own some crypto or mine it. It doesn’t work that way. If it did, I’d be writing a different story.
The cryptocurrency mining rig that I built earns anywhere between a few dollars a day and maybe $12 on a really great day. A lot of its earning potential is dependent upon the market price of Ethereum.
This is not life changing money to most people.
It is, however, a nice additional source of income, paid out roughly every week that we can make work for us in creative ways.
I primarily just hold the Ethereum in my private wallet where it’s deposited. Sometimes, depending on the crypto market, it might make sense to convert to Bitcoin. But overall, due to my interest and belief in the space, I don’t plan on cashing it out anytime soon.
Even though it hasn’t made us rich, the extra source of income from the Ethereum mining rig is nothing to sneeze at.
Cryptocurrency was already a noticeable bucket in our finances. Now though, it’s become a bucket with a steady stream of inflow.
As I mentioned, building a cryptocurrency mining rig at the scale of mine will make anywhere between a few dollars a day to maybe $12. This is an extra $100–400 per month.
While I’m mainly holding it as is, the passive income is significant enough to monitor and sustain. Another piece to mention is that I built the rig in a way where it can be easily upgraded.
I’ve added more graphics cards to make it more powerful (aka profitable) and can continue to do so if I want to spend the money on more GPUs.
Again, this started as a quarantine project.
I’m fortunate to have not lost my job during the pandemic.
That doesn’t mean, however, that we just had money earmarked to build a cryptocurrency mining rig…
For any side hustle, you need to determine what you’re willing invest before you get started — this goes for both time and money.
My initial target costs were $1,000.
When it was all said and done, it ended up being $978.
Consider the context of your side hustle too. In my case, I was making an investment of $1,000 to earn cryptocurrency.
I could’ve also just taken that $1,000 to purchase a fixed amount of Bitcoin or Ethereum. I decided to build the mining rig instead.
Why build the rig instead of buy the crypto directly?
That $1,000 will earn, over time, more total units of crypto than what I’d be able to purchase with it straight up.
It’s a long-term strategy to dollar-cost-average myself into a larger position of Ethereum. Assuming Ethereum is still here in a few years, I’ll have made back my initial costs and then some as the passive income persists.
I’ve spent more than $1,000 at this point.
I’ve added more graphics cards to the rig to make it more profitable. But, I’ve bought them over time to reduce the financial impact of the upgrades.
I did the same thing when ordering my initial parts.
I didn’t just spend $1,000 in a single day and order everything all at once. There was a strategy to how and when I ordered things.
Several parts were used items that I bid on via auctions whereas others were purchased online at places like Amazon with exact timelines for delivery.
I also bought the parts in a way where I could assemble the mining rig as I went, leaving some, such as the power supply, until the end because it was both the last piece needed to turn it on and because it was one of the more expensive parts.
Get creative in how you approach your side hustle.
If you become something of a subject matter expert in that area, you can find ways to make your budget and timeline work in your favor.
My Ethereum mining rig is a versatile side hustle. If I do nothing but maintain it in its current state, it’ll earn those few extra dollars a day.
I can, however, continue to upgrade the rig.
I can also blog about it like I am right now.
I can share the learnings from my experience. I can participate more in forums and help others get started in cryptocurrency mining.
I can branch out into other areas of computer parts and assembly that I was too scared to touch before this experiment.
What I’m getting at is that building an Ethereum mining rig turned into something that can take me in several different directions.
It doesn’t have to just end when it’s up and running. It’s also a cool icebreaker or a conversation starter. People are interested to hear about it.
Consider your own side hustle or source of passive income. Can it be repurposed and repackaged in creative ways?
Here’s a final thought on what’s next for my mining experiment.
If you’re familiar with Ethereum, then you might know that Ethereum mining will eventually go away. The cryptocurrency protocol is transitioning from mining to a process known as staking.
The people behind Ethereum have upgraded the network via ETH 2.0. You can read about it here if you’d like.
I bring it up for a more general takeaway though — not just for those familiar with Ethereum and cryptocurrencies.
I knew that I couldn’t mine Ethereum forever going into this.
It was part of the decision-making process when I considered whether or not to take on the challenge. I have about a 2–3 year window to mine and I determined it was still worth it.
Will your side hustle last forever?
As I mentioned, consider whether or not you can create other projects related to it. Can you repurpose and repackage it in new, rewarding ways?
Being able to do just that excited me.
I can continue to write about the process. I can learn about building things and discover some interesting topics along the way.
My Ethereum mining project doesn’t end when COVID ends. It didn’t end when I turned it on for the first time. It will continue to be there, satisfying my interests and providing some cool benefits.