I would just like to start this post and thanks to the @steem.leo team for putting on this writing competition. If you haven't already seen you can go here to learn some more details about the contest and what is required.
To this point, I have never bought or sold crypto directly to fiat and up until about a year ago, when I had some friends ask what was the easiest way to purchase crypto, I had never really thought about it as 99% of the crypto I own I've earned through faucets, Steemit, trading, or it was given to me.
During the next bull run, however, I do plan on using Coinbase to take some profits off the table directly into USD. I have recently been able to purchase some crypto assets with fiat through using PayPal and the Splinterlands Site (referral link) to purchase Untamed Boosters Packs. In a roundabout way, this is one of the easiest ways that I have found to use Paypal to directly purchase Steem. Buy Untamed Booster packs and then sell them on Steem-Engine however, you're taking quite a hit to do this as Untamed Booster Packs are only selling for around $1.50.
I have not gotten paid for a service with crypto, but I have earned Bitcoin via posting on bitcointalk.org through a Yobit sponsorship on there. I had a Yobit signature on all my posts/comments and as long I was not spamming I would get paid for my activity on the forum based on my "ranking". This was how I earned my second most crypto.
The easiest way I earned crypto, but probably the least amount for my time is for my "attention" via the Brave browser clicking on ads and for completing faucets. Faucets paid out quite a bit more as Bitcoin was much cheaper, but a lot of faucets were closing down or running out of Bitcoin as Google ads were cutting revenue to these sites as well as the price of Bitcoin increasing dramatically at the start of the last bear market.
Finally, the way I've earned most of my crypto is through posting and commenting on Steemit. I have definitely put this most effort into posting, commenting, and curating than anything else. I still think Steemit is the best onramp for people into the crypto world as they can start earning and using crypto relatively easily which allows them to learn about private keys, wallets, etc.
I would say I've earned some crypto via trading, but since I haven't kept a trading journal, it's hard for me to say I've actually earned crypto from trading. I know I've lost a lot of fiat by not selling any crypto during the last bear market, but I have dabbled into some trading and feel somewhat confident I've grown my crypto through trading by a little, but it hasn't been worth the time I've put in.
One way I did take profit back in the last bear market was buying some silver and old coins. The most used site was @steembay which, unfortunately, no longer seems to be active as no one was using it. I bought some old USD "silver certificates" and some Steem Silver Rounds on there as well.
I think I also bought some Silver from @phelimint and his website to add to my silver collection. Once again this was a great decision as I used SBD when it was around $3 or more from what I recall. I'm not sure if he is still accepting crypto, but definitely a great option in the future as a way to take some profits in the next bull run.
I also used my crytpo to buy some digital cards, first with the PePeDapp which turned out a good initial investment and then a bust as the cards started declining in value and then I lost my Metamask backup information. The site still seems to be running and has some new cards, so maybe it is still being developed.
My best investment with crypto so far is buying some @splinterlands cards. I still get enjoyment out of playing the game, buying booster packs, and trading cards for crypto and crypto for cards. I need to start getting involved in tournaments and completing my daily quests as I feel they do a good job rewarding the community for playing and are aware that a good secondary card market helps to keep the game healthy, competitive, and stable.
If you know of a good secure way to buy Steem, Bitcoin, or some other top crypto directly using Paypal in the US, please let me know. After digging into some apps like Robinhood, you can buy Bitcoin, but you have no control over it so, in my opinion, you're not actually buying Bitcoin. Other sites like LocalBitcoin want you to be a high rated buyer, and since I've never bought any Bitcoin before, it's kind of hard to become a high rated buyer, so any comments or suggestions on this topic would be appreciated