Practice
This is the best advice I can give. Opportunity is always around the corner. You need to prepare for it. Before I bought a single coin, I watched the market for 3 months. Because Coinbase wouldn't verify my account. Cough. ... Instead of buying Maidsafe, Augur, Ardor. I chose Iota, Komodo, Mona. It gave me a feel for the market. Which paid off extremely well. But I still hate Coinbase.
Hodl vs Selling
In an unpredictable market with explosive growth. You could end up picking the next Ford, Google, Kmart. ... They were successful at one point! Just because it takes off long term. It doesn't mean it's the Best Buy forever. Find a sell point. Be wary, emotions, fear, doubt will make you jump to conclusions that just weren't true. Thus the dilemma of hold vs sell. I almost did that when Mona was $3. But I held that line! Afterwards it pushed to a glorious $20! I held again and... lost. My original sell estimation was $20-$30. Did I ignore it? Yeah. Did I pay the price? Yep. Emotions affect us all.
Play to Win
Don't have any attachment, any loyalty to a company. It's purpose is to make you money. It doesn't exist to make you feel good. It can do that, but it's primary function is making you that dough. If it fails to do so, if it under performs, or if it's just time to sell. Cash out in a growth cycle. Appeals to emotion is a great way to stay poor. Follow that data, follow those results.
Pitfalls
The most common mistake is asking others what to buy. It's your money! You are the final authority. Figure out if the advice you got is any good with math, data. Don't expect random people to lead you to success. A lesson I learned over and over again in online games. Run the flag ProX1! RUN IT YOU FOOL! No! Don't go that way! JuicyBoots I swear if you are still AFK... OMG! I'm getting Halo 1 flashbacks.
Fraud
You may argue the coin will grow because it's fraud. Enron had a good run for the people who knew when to pull out. But most times fraud doesn't have any run, and even when it does. You have no clue when the feds kick down the door. Maybe the owner decides it's cash out time. You're not just helping the market by avoiding fraud. You're helping yourself. Unless you're part of the scheme. If that's the case, I'll see you behind bars. Results vary per country.
Incompetence
The number 1 reason companies go under. Is the coin run by tree hugging hippies, where no one is in charge? You probably aren't going to make money. If they want to be a charity, awesome. But as an investor you are giving them to make a return. If not, there are plenty of legitimate charities that will often do a better job. This is business. They need to produce results. I found from my own experience working with Marxists, Flat Organizations, Bleeding Hearts. The pay was awful, the people in charge incompetent. Companies folding was a fact of life. It's not wrong trying to make the world a better place. But to get there, you need to have realistic methods for achieving it. The reason I'm mentioning this for crypto, is this is the most common failure point. A lot of people are, and will continue to throw money at the feels, not the results. Blissfully unaware that the owner(s) were scratching their heads. From day one to it's closure.
Mergers
This is a great opportunity to make substantial gains, or lose it all. Make sure you keep track of your investments. For example, Bitcoin Dark. Did you know it's merging with Komodo. It's delisting from the market Jan 15th(Update: It didn't delist yet, but it's value fell into the toilet). To the people who are just holding, they are going to hold onto a dead coin. Move when necessary. Keep track of what your coin is doing.
Products/Services
If the company isn't offering anything. It will probably fail. Yes that includes bitcoin. You need a product, and or service people will use. You need it to last. I remember people buying the I-pods, and I asked, "Why are they buying these?" After I got my answer it made sense. I didn't have to like Apple, to reach that conclusion. I saw the results in front of me. At the time I didn't buy Apple stock. $1 in 2003, now $175. I could have put in $100x175, calculate fees, taxes. I probably missed out on $10k. Oops!
Stable vs Risk
In an explosive market you want to make stable gambles. Long term decisions. Because you can't predict which company will become big like Amazon, Netflix. In a stable market, you want to take high risk, Tesla, D Wave. The Yin and the Yang. Mix in some diversity. Don't go all in on one coin. Spread it across 5-10 coins and you have good odds. Much better than dumping it into Verge... NM. Errr Round Coin.
Buy on Dips
Best time to buy is when the market is down. However you don't know how far down it'll go until it's over. Resist the temptation to buy on the bottom until you start seeing some recovery. You may miss out on the maximum gain. But you are less likely to see your purchase continue to fall down. This requires you to get practice reading charts. Additionally check on the company. See if there's anything bad occurring. If it's doing an Enron (spiral of death), avoid! I was smart enough to know the tech market takes dips in July. I waited, bought, and made nothing but gains since. It's those little moments of insight that can pay off the most.
Change
No matter what, the market will not stand still. It will not repeat the same patterns. No algorithm predicted Tesla, Netflix, Bitcoin. Computers may process data faster than humans. But they do an awful job thinking outside the box. No amount of pessimism will prevent the inevitable outcome. There is no winning formula. Use this to your advantage. The way people think today doesn't mesh with you? Wait long enough and it will change.
Rules
Form your own rule set for investing. Discover what works and keep it. Remind yourself that as the market changes, you'll need to change your rules. You may be ahead now, know everything necessary to succeed today. Tomorrow become flustered with all the shifts. Never say never, don't decide in absolutes. Every rule has an exception.
Use Math
In multiple instances I came across people who argue from emotion, and not from math. When someone is telling you for example Ripple is a bad investment over Komodo. You should ask how is this mathematically true? Ripple has grown from $0.50 cents to $3.00 in 6 months. That's good. What about Komodo? $0.50 to $15 in the same time frame. Ask yourself why? KMD's lower volume ends up being the answer.
Komodo, $7 to $15 in December/January. You say to yourself, ok but Ripple still grew a lot, $1 to $3! Most of it in a month... Uh oh! Giant growth was in a short time span means one thing. Market will dip. A decline down to $6 for KMD vs Ripple's $1. Conclusion? Ripple is crap. Will this be the case next time? Unknown. But at the minimum math paints a real picture of your investments.