You can monitor value of bitcoin on preev.com or find various long-term charts at https://blockchain.info/charts that will be helpful in assessment of what is or has gone on with bitcoin over time. For other visualizations you can watch fiat flow "into" bitcoin in real-time at http://fiatleak.com/
By November 23, 2016, the market capitalization of bitcoins in circulation (total, around the world) was $11,908,463,816 (nearly 12 billion dollars), and the 24-hour transaction volume was equivalent to $224.9 M as per https://coinmarketcap.com/ Measured in terms of money supply, that meant that the total market cap of bitcoins was at that time actually a more significant force in the market than was the total money supply of Estonia, Costa Rica, or Iceland at that time, as examples.
Today the bitcoin market cap is $33,971,006,369 (nearly 34 billion dollars), which is a larger force in the market today than the total money supply of Kuwait or Peru at the time of this post.
I strongly recommend against using Coinbase, Bitpay, or "web wallets," which are inherently unsafe, and as well engage in annual reporting against their own user base. I do recommend the below as methods to safely obtain or exchange BTC.
a) Storj - Run the client / rent your drive, uses your free connected external or internal HD as available storage, people pay you for it. (You can exchange the storj tokens for bitcoin or other money)
b) Electrum, Mycelium - examples of easy to use and secure bitcoin wallets that don't involve sharing or giving control of your information to ANY company, ever.
c) If you are into helping the bitcoin network improve and develop: check out this post for how to "signal UASF" which is a way of individual users indicating that they are 'voting' for the activation of Segwit across the network. What is Segwit and what are its benefits?
d) Bitsquare or Mycelium LT - decentralized methods of exchanging one currency for another with someone else, these don't require you use banks, organizations, or middlemen. It's just software. Your data is in your hands, not the banks' or the governments'. (Check the site's github periodically for new releases.)
e) OpenBazaar -- decentralized marketplace, no fees, just set up a store and make money. P2P alternative to ebay or amazon. (Check the site's github periodically for new releases.)
f) Mycelium Gear - Probably the best way to handle payment processing if you need to set that up and don't want to worry about KYC/AML and insane regulations and fees. Customizable for your website.
g) Rein - Decentralized freelancing. Get bitcoin for small freelance jobs without tying yourself to freelancing sites. Multisignature escrow, no fees. Yes, really.
h) If you have a Wordpress site I recommend the Bitcoin Payments for WooCommerce plugin which also requires you use WooCommerce plugin. Both plugins are free. This is compatible with the Electrum wallet, which you will need if you are going to use that WooCommerce plugin. It works in such a way that if someone gives or pays you in bitcoin then the funds are sent STRAIGHT to your Electrum wallet, not passing through any organization, bank, institution, company or anybody. Just straight to you. No mess, no fuss. Kind of like Mycelium Gear for your Wordpress site.
i) If you liked the above please also check out ABIS which is a project of mine.
If you have done the above and feel ready to try out a centralized exchange, do not leave your funds on the exchange for any longer than is necessary in order to conduct your business and don't use any exchange that has had any record of a security compromise involving theft of bitcoin. Most have experienced some kind of theft or another, but one centralized exchange with a pretty good security record is Kraken, due to its security practices.