If you’re a freelance marketer with competent copywriting skills, you’ve likely encountered the gold mine today that is the ICO and blockchain craze.
I know, because though I’m not a freelancer, I’ve done a fair bit of networking with the tech community, and have received a few offers to craft white papers for ventures looking to raise significant capital through ICOs (initial coin offerings).
White papers are used as the vehicle for startup founders and small companies to vet themselves to potential ICO investors. The demand for them has been incredible – creating unprecedented and lucrative opportunities for marketing content creators.
Despite a tinge of temptation to get into something that sounds exciting, I haven’t taken the plunge myself, due primarily to lack of time. But even if that weren’t an issue, I would seriously hesitate to do so.
Here are some thoughts as to why I don’t believe this is the right time to dive into the craze of cryptocurrencies, blockchains, and ICOs.
ICOs have turned out to be a hot mess of confusion, extremely speculative hype, and infestations of fraudulent activity. It’s been reported that ICOs open to the public have failed on a massive scale, as much as 50% or more. And the SEC has been cracking down on ICOs with traceable instances of fraud. The dynamics of ICOs are changing so quickly that just after over a year or so of their massive popularity, they’re now much more prioritized to credible, pre-accredited investors in the form of private ICOs (to reduce fraud exposure).
ICOs, cryptocurrencies, and blockchain are very difficult to grasp with a reasonable sense of command knowledge. The very young entities looking to raise capital through ICOs tend to be offering their own crypto to fund some sort of blockchain-based application. If you can’t confidently understand what’s going on under the hood of these ventures, then how can you expect to create marketing content that’s informative, authoritative, and trustworthy?
There’s an incredible abundance of purported thought leadership pieces out there, written by non-technical marketers and advocates. Blockchain is aggressively touted as the answer to problems in a wide range of areas well beyond its original envisioning of a decentralized monetary system. Promotional pieces such as white papers, guest blog posts, and such very often fall under the generic theme of "Blockchain will revolutionize [add your industry, market, or application here]." Here’s an example – focusing on foster care.
Despite all the promotion and hype, there is very little, if any evidence of real-world success with blockchain applications (beyond crypto). One of the central tenets of marketing is to validate important attributes of the product you’re promoting through real-world success stories – otherwise known as case studies. It’s stunning to find that there’s very little or no visible instances of real-world success with blockchain-related implementations.
Blockchain seems to be one of the rare technologies for which just one compelling, doubtlessly justifiable success story can spark rapid adoption across a broad range of industries and applications. Yet, despite all of the promotional articles and strongly argumentative claims out there, we’ve yet to see anything come to fruition, even from high profile companies like IBM.
So for now at least, I would much prefer to sit out on the sidelines and watch this all play out, as it continues to do so with many intriguing twists and turns.
I’m not giving up hope that blockchain will mature into a truly viable, problem-solving technological platform. We’re just nowhere near there right now.