An Artists Guide To Making The Most Of Steemit
Steemit has an entire cultureOne has to navigate if they hope to make Steemit work for them. What makes matters difficult for newcomers is that this culture is ever dynamic, constantly reshaping itself as it experiments with its own identity. Steemit can be a very confusing place for a newcomer, and even stranger for an artist. Cryptocurrencies and blockchain technologies are so staggeringly new, filled with crazy lingo no one has ever heard before, and filled with even crazier concepts.
In this article I share with you some insights into Steemit culture and tips for getting the most of it as well.
Steemit is an amazing place, at the forefront of an entirely new way for human beings to organize labor, concepts and communication, as well as a new way to earn money. As for artists, Steemit presents a new kind of opportunity; Never before has an artist been able to so easily earn money simple by talking about their art, let alone performing it or selling it.
If you're absolutely new to Steemit be sure to check out my article How To Steemit 101 ~ An Artist’s Guide.
Please see the glossary at the end for definitions to many of the "Steemit words" used in this article.
Understanding The Steemit Ecosystem
Steemit is a weird and wonderful place that was originally created by Dan Larimer and Ned Scott. You can read the Steemit whitepaper, which describes the initial intentions for Steemit. Although Steemit was created by Steemit Inc., they do not actually own the blockchain, which itself is open-source and public. It's decentralized, and Steemit Inc. has no control over the people who actually run the network, which are called "witnesses". Witnesses must be voted in by Steemians. Steemit Inc. simply runs just one of many web applications that provide access to the blockchain, which is of course the website Steemit.com. In this article I will be describing how you can use some of the other web applications to promote your work and earn extra crypto.
Because the blockchain is public and decentralized, in theory it cannot be censored.
And this is why Steemit is currently being flooded with artists.
In brief, it's also critical that you understand that Steemit is economically based on capitalism. It works on the notion that the amount of money you earn is directly proportional to the amount of stakes you hold in the company. In the case of Steemit, however, a "shareholder stake" is called Steem Power and the "company" is the entire blockchain. The amount of Steem Power you hold determines the value of your upvote. I will be covering several ways for you to get more Steem Power, which directly underpins the amount you can earn here.
Don't worry if you don't have much or anything at all to invest into Steemit. I will show you how you can start from nothing.
Steemit Is Changing: Hardfork 20 is Almost Here
A hardfork is a "software upgrade" to the blockchain. Steemit's Hardfork 20 will take place on September 25th 2018. When this happens a new crypto token will be introduced to Steemit called the Good Person Token. It has been a major complaint of newcomers that it is difficult to get your "foot in the door", so to speak, because it takes a fairly large investment from your own pocket (or an investor or a Steemit whale, which I describe later) in order to gain a substantial profit. It's hoped that the GPT will fix this problem.
When the GPT hits the blockchain, everyone will get an equal voice, and an equal upvote value. 1 vote = 1 GPT. However the exact value of the GPT still has yet to be seen. You might get 100 upvotes granting 100 GPT but if it's only worth $0.001 then you've earned a total of $0.10, whereas the same amount of upvotes could possibly earn you substantially more in Steem if those who upvoted you hold substantial amounts of Steem Power.
If the use of Steem Power is capitalism, The use of the GPT could possibly be akin to communism or socialism. However there are still some major differences, mostly that in the socialist or communist models the inputs and outputs of the monetary cycle are centrally controlled whereas the blockchain is not; it's decentralized.
Many are excited to see the GPT and have great hope for it, and yet others are very critical, saying it won't have much effect. When Hardfork 20 is released both Steem and the GPT economic models will be run together, side by side, and we will have a chance to see which fairs better. With all of that said, keep in mind that this article addresses earning money via Steem and Steem Power, and not the GPT, since we don't know yet how that system will fair.
Steemit Haz Robots. Get Used To It.
The bots on Steemit are used to automate and regulate quite a few things and it could be an entire article on its own. Just realize that automated Steemit accounts are used to reduce spam, reward good content, and distribute upvotes. They are also used to create spam and flag accounts.
Automation is possible because the blockchain is public and decentralized.
I have seen a lot of artists become offended by the number of Steemit bots that leave comments on their posts. Be careful and diligent about flagging such comments. Do research about that bot before flagging as you may find that it is deemed by the Steemit community as a good thing. One such bot I see many people grapple with is @cheetah, which will leave a comment on your post along with a minuscule upvote if it finds text or images that have been copied from elsewhere on the Internet. Receiving too many comments from @cheetah can signal other "flag" bots that you are a spammer.
My advice is to just let the bots leave their comments. It isn't really doing any harm, it usually comes with an upvote, and the number of comments you receive (along with number of upvotes and total payout value) are used to place you in the "Hot" and "Trending" categories. Why not get a few extra?
Step By Step
I'm going to write this article as a sort of step-by-step guide. Although it's not necessary, I believe it's important that you do these things in the order I describe so that you can maximize the use of your time as well as your presentation to other Steemians.
1. Make some preliminary posts.
This can be about anything, but it should have a few examples of your art and a couple quick blurbs that demonstrate your personality on Steemit and prove that you're a real person. Just try to get used to the system, but try not to post more than 4 times a day. Anything more is considered spam.
An incredibly important skill to learn is Markdown, which is a very simple code that you can use in your Steemit posts to accentuate and decorate your post. Check out this handy guide to using markdown in your posts to create titles, links, numbered lists, tables, italic and bold font, etc.
Quick Markdown Guide
|#||The pound sign makes text into a title. Use multiple pounds signs together (###) to achieve different size titles|
|[Text](URL)||This is how to make a link. Replace "text" with the link text and "URL" with something like https://steemit.com. Notice that simply putting a URL into Steemit post creates a link, but you do not have control over the text.|
|*word*||Surrounding a word or phrase with asterisks will make it italic.|
|**word**||Surrounding a word or phrase with two asterisks will make it bold.|
Also be sure to complete your profile settings and add a profile picture and a page header image.
Having some initial posts and a complete profile will make the next step much easier for you as people will know that you're a real person and not a spammer account.
This is paramount. Before trying to present other Steemians with your artwork or music, it's crucial you create a rapport with those already here.
Look Inside Wallets
One thing to take notice of when you get here is that you can look inside everyone's wallet. That's a level of transparency you should become accustomed to. Looking inside another's wallet can help you get an idea of the type of transactions they're making. A great deal of what happens on Steemit is based on sending Steem or Steem Based Dollars, not just as way of sending money, but also as a way of programmatically interacting with the blockchain.
Leave Thoughtful Comments
One thing that will get you in a lot of trouble on Steemit really fast is to leave unrelated, short, or trite comments such as "Nice job!", "Excellent post!", "I really like what you're doing", etc. This is generic and can be applied to anything and is usually the type of language used by Steemit spammers hoping to get upvotes by leaving thousands of asinine comments on the blockchain.
Instead, make your presence known by getting involved in other people's posts. There are over one million Steemit users now so you should have no problem finding someone with similar interests and whom may inspire you to leave interesting comments. Trust me, the more interesting and involved your comments are, the stronger the reciprocal action will be. This really is key to finding loyal followers that support your work.
Don't Get Flagged
Every Steemian has the ability to upvote, remove an upvote, and flag, which is essentially a downvote. Flags are weighted in the same way that upvotes are, meaning the more Steem Power behind an account that gives a flag, the greater the penalty, which is the removal of STU (Steem Token Units) from the post's payout. As an example of this, imagine if a whale wishes to flag a minnow at full weight and power. This could remove the entire payout and if the flag weight is great enough (or the post receives enough flags) then the post or comment will begin to gray-out, then finally disappear. If a whale wishes too, they can easily flag a minnow's account into oblivion just as easily as they can grant a $300 upvote.
Because of this it's important to always be polite... unless you're a whale and can afford to enter into a flag war.
Start Following Some People
Start following some people. This is something you really don't want to overdo. I've seen a lot of people misuse this feature, especially transplants from Facebook who think that the more people they follow the more people will follow them. This may be true in a sense, but most likely the accounts that begin following you back will be robots, and you'll see very few of your followers actually interact with you by leaving comments or upvotes.
Also, there is no algorithm that sorts your feed.
All posts made by all those you are following are presented to you in chronological order. Because of this, if you are following too many people you will not see a majority of the posts that run through your feed. This can signal to other Steemians that you are not really interested in supporting those you follow as how could you possibly see all their posts? I recommend not following more than one or two hundred people as anything more will become unmanageable.
When you find someone you want to follow, leave a comment telling them you did so on one of their posts along with why you liked the post. Telling them you upvoted, followed and resteemed is a great way to show support and possibly get a reciprocal follower.
3. Create Your IntroduceYourself Post
Yes, that's all one word because it's the tag you use (introduceyourself) to create a special post that greets the Steemit community and explains why you're here. Many people manually watch this category to greet you and leave welcome comments on your post. There are even whales that watch and give quite generous upvotes for a well-crafted introduceyourself post, as a way of encouraging newcomers to strive for quality. Because of this, your introduceyourself post is something you should really spend some time on. Include numerous images and try to use images that are of professional quality, taken by a professional photographer if possible. Use Markdown in appropriate places to create an easy to read post with comprehensive titles. Make your post with a substantial amount of content about who you are and what you'd like to achieve on Steemit. And most importantly, read the next section for some good advice before making this post.
4. Create High-Quality Posts
Keep in mind though that high-quality is not necessarily equated to content length. Not every post has to be a whole novel like this one. It just has to be viewed as valuable, whether that be because it's informative, entertaining, or just fashionable and trendy, it is completely subjective and will be based on the perceptions of your viewers.
Every Post Should Have At Least 1 Image
The first image you add to your post, regardless of where you put it, will become the thumbnail of your post when it appears in lists. This thumbnail is really important for getting upvotes, so you should have at least one image (if not more like 4 or 5) in each of your posts. If the post is about you then the thumbnail image should contain your face or at least your project logo. Taking some time with this image to make sure it's unique and stands out can go a long way to making your post valued by the community.
Use The NSFW tag
Although the blockchain is technically uncensored, it is still self-censored. You may post any type of content you like, but if it's controversial it's advised you use the NSFW (Not Safe For Work) tag which will hide your post unless someone clicks the reveal link. If you don't do this for certain things (such as nudity) you will most certainly get flagged.
Use The Correct Tag For Maximum Exposure
The very first tag you enter is the category that your post will be placed into and is the only tag that cannot be edited. Be crafty about choosing this tag. Although it can be tempting to use the "art" tag or "music" tag, these tags are so overused that it's quite unlikely you will be seen in these categories. Instead use a more specific genre for your tag such as "rap" or "painting" or use "musicvideo" which is actually a very undervalued tag right now. At the bottom left of the Steemit homepage is a link to "all tags". Take some time studying this page as it shows you which tags are most popular and which tags are earning the most SBD.
Using tags that are very popular but don't relate to your post is considered tag spamming and it is very frowned upon and will get you flagged.
Use tags that relate to your post's content and not just "steemit", "post", "upvote", etc.
Using The Right Tag Can Get You BIG Upvotes
Each post you make is only allowed 5 tags, so using these wisely is a strategy worth investing into. More importantly though, there are very big, well organized group projects that are backed by whales and grant upvotes as large as $300 STU or more for an incredible variety of things, but especially for the arts and music. Isn't that nice? I will explain in a little bit which tags to use to get the attention of these big upvotes and help you start earning money just from sharing your art and music. Read on.
Now that you've established yourself in the community, it's time to start participating in ways that will grant you some big upvotes and help put some food in that starving-artist mouth. Many dolphins and whales have realized how hard it is for a minnow with no personal investment to find their way in the Steemit ecosystem. Because of this they have formed organizations and projects dedicated to distributing fair-value upvotes (that's a euphemism for large $$$) to newcomer minnows for creating quality posts. Here's a non-exhaustive list of some of the big ones you should get started with right away.
SteemConnect is operated as a joint partnership between Busy.org and Steemit Inc. and is considered the most secure way to authenticate a Steemit user outside of the Steemit.com website. If you find a service that interacts with the Steemit blockchain in ways such as sending funds, posting comments or voting and it does not use SteemConnect to authenticate you run away!
Never, never, never put your Steemit password into a Steemit web application unless it uses SteemConnect!!!
I cannot stress this enough. Discord is an IRC-chat-style web/phone application that is used by 90% of all Steemians that are actually doing something worth a damn. It's how you get in touch with anybody on Steemit, and is crucial for interacting with all of the services I am about to introduce you to. Not having the Discord app on your phone, in Steemit terms, is like not having a phone at all. Get this app and sign up so that you can interact with the actual creators, moderators and other users of these services.
Often, on most of the links to these services you will find they provide you with a link to their Discord server. Joining many of these servers can really get you in touch with people of like mind really fast. And each server usually contains a specific channel just for promoting your most recent post, which you can do just by leaving a link. This is a great way of jump starting your account while you have little to no followers.
Stop using YouTube right now! This is it's ultimate replacement. DLive works, looks and feels just like YouTube with one major difference: it's decentralized and part of the Steemit blockchain. As YouTube as been demonetizing major YouTubers and ramping up ad placement, content creators are finding themselves turning to this uncensored and decentralized alternative.
Also, putting high quality music and art related videos on DLive can land you a fat upvote from DLive itself!
Stop using SoundCloud right now! just like DLive, DSound is the much better, ad free, uncensored and decentralized version. And once again, putting your high-quality music here can land you some nice upvotes from DSound itself. This is the preferred way to submit your music to @openmic.
This project upvotes quality content created newcommers and minnows. You must have discord to use this service, but they do grant generous upvotes. Simply join their discord server and follow the instructions given to you by the robot that greets you, which will be something like entering
$ register steemitaccountname. Once you've done this you'll be given a memo code that you will send along with 0.001 SBD (or Steem) to @msp-reg. After this, you use the discord channel to notify this same bot that you'd like an upvote with a code like
This one is a big one. Every artist that comes to Steemit should be made aware of @curie, which is a group dedicated to upvoting quality posts. Their model is an interesting one, as you cannot simply request a Curie upvote, but you must be found by a Curie curator. However, there are actually a lot of Curie curators and getting found isn't that hard. Especially if you have a low influence, a recent sign up date, only a few posts but most or all of your posts are high quality. This kind of account grants the biggest reward to the curator that found it.
This is a really cool project run primarily by @SurfYogi and @ArtZanolino. To use it is extremely simple. Just use the "artzone" tag in your post and an @ArtZone curator will review your post and possibly give you a nice upvote. They can't upvote everybody and there are a lot of submissions, so you're not guaranteed to get an upvote. However these people are really fair and understanding and will very likely give you an upvote eventually so long as you are creating nice posts. For this reason I suggest using the artzone tag in every post you make about your art or music (or improv and comedy too), especially a specific piece you just created. To learn more about ArtZone please read:
ArtTurtle is an upvote bot I developed that will follow you and upvote, resteem and reply to every post you make (current upvote value around $0.06) that contain any of a list of art and music related tags. To use @ArtTurtle simply delegate 20 SP or more, or sign up to Artopium.com and create an account for free. I have a lot of high hopes for this project as the more people that join it the more everyone earns from it. All the Steem and SP power I earn from this project I pump back into ArtTurtle in order to further increase it's upvote value. So far I have invested a little over 1000 Steem Power into ArtTurtle giving it it's current upvote value. Please read the post I created just recently that explains all the benefits of ArtTurtle.
This project also grants big upvotes to creators of original art. It is manually reviewed by humans and it is really simple to use. Instead of using a tag, leave a comment on the post with "@originalworks" as the only text in the comment. Somebody will review the post and reply to the comment with an outcome. By doing it this way anybody can leave the @originalworks comment on any post they think is high quality and showcases original work. Check out their post for more information on how to use their services:
This project is one of my favorites and has been around for a while. Well at least since I got here. As the name implies, this one is for musicians only. You enter the open mic by creating a video of a live performance. It doesn't have to be fancy and is quite often just somebody with a guitar in front of their smartphone. However, entries with higher quality video, audio and performances get rewarded substantially more. This video must be made specifically for this entry and cannot be rehashed material, but that's OK because it just needs to be one long shot. Also, because it's weekly, you have an entire week to make it. At the beginning of the video you must say into the camera "Open Mic contest week number _____" and the current week number, which as of this writing is currently 100. Once you've created your video you'll need to get it online. While you may be tempted to use YouTube, consider using Dlive instead, which I explain below. Once your video is online, embed it into a post and put "openmic" as the first tag. There's actually more rules than this so be sure to read:
This is another project I'm involved in that helps to increase upvotes on your posts. It's an upvote exchange program that lets you invite another Steemian to an automatic exchange of upvotes between you and them. Exchanges can be set to automatically exchange upvotes for as long as one year. The more auto-exchanges you make with other Steemians the more opportunity you create to increase your upvotes on any given post. Don't have a very big upvote to trade in an exchange? SteemAX has you covered. It allows you to create disproportional exchanges so it can be a great way to find a dolphin or whale to support you for a while.
To "start" an invitation you will need to send at least 0.001 SBD to @steem-ax along with the unique memo code presented to you when you created the invite (click the start button). SteemAX forwards this amount to the invitee and takes zero fees.
For complete instructions on how to use SteemAX please read It's Finally Here: SteemAX 1.0 Beta Official Release
Last but most certainly not least is Utopian, a curation group that grants very large upvotes for work done on open-source projects. Content created can span anything from how to articles and videos, graphic design, programming, copy writing, social media promotion and much more. This is primarily how I was "incentivized" to create SteemAX. By posting my development progress I was awarded very handsome upvotes. Please feel free to check out my other account @learnelectronics where I made these posts so you can get an idea of how much I earned.
To use Utopian, check out their rules and guidelines first, and be sure to follow every single one to a T.
6. Track Your Performance
OK, so you've got a few posts out there promoting your art or music and maybe even a whale has noticed you. You're participating in a number of projects outlined above and now you want to see how you're doing.
There is actually a plethora of information available about your Steemit account that is not available at Steemit.com. Here is a list of other web applications that interact with the Steemit blockchain in order to provide you charts, graphs and tabled info about your comments, upvote history, payouts, and much more.
Go to this website, built by @dragosroua which gives you a summary of all of your post payouts, and shows totals in Steem and USD. It shows your post payout history as a nice graph and is essential for watching your monetary progress on Steemit. To see your account you can either enter it on the homepage of the website or you can put it in the URL like: steem.supply/@your-account-name
This website, built by @roadscape, shows every transaction made in the Steemit blockchain. Visiting the website by placing your account name in the URL (steemd.com/@your-account-name) will show a list of every single transaction your account has made, or others have made with it, in chronological order, starting with the most recent transaction. This includes every post, comment, upvote, flag, or monetary send to another account that is made involving your account; which means it shows everything you have done, and everything others have done to your account. A powerful tool for tracking activity on your account.
Here you can see who your loyal followers are, and who your "ghost" or dead/unused followers are. It orders your followers by how much they've contributed to your posts by way of total interaction or by way of just pure upvote value.
SteemVoter let's you set your account to automatically upvote another account at a given percentage of your upvote value. This lets you automatically generate curation profits from accounts you think post good content and that receive generous upvotes, giving you a generous cut. Because curation rewards are hard to earn with too small of an upvote, this service is perfect for the dolphin or whale that wishes to automate their account.
This is on the front of the website and kind of says it all:
Welcome to the world of automation! SteemAuto comes with amazing features: you can schedule posts, build a fanbase, follow a curation trail, and even automate claiming your payouts.
Truly, you have only just begun your journey into the vast array of web applications that have already been built for the Steemit blockchain. Visit SteemTools to find services of all kinds; there are literally hundreds, with many more being created every day. I often tell my friends, "Come join me over at the other Internet."
Yet another amazing list of Steem organizations and projects to get involved with and use.
Quick Term Guide
|Whale||Someone who holds a very large amount of Steem Power and Influence.|
|Minnow||Someone with very little Steem Power, who's upvote value is very small, usually a newcomer. with their own money to invest into SP.|
|Dolphin||Essentially the middle class of Steemit, somewhere between a whale and a minnow.|
|Vests||The basic unit of cryptocurrency that is stored on the Steemit blockchain. Because Steemit is essentially capitalistic in design, the Vest can be thought of as the unit value of investment made into the Steemit blockchain, and determines your percentage of the ownership of the blockchain and is the unit that Steem, Steem Power and Steem Based Dollars are based on.|
|Delegate||The act of transferring all or a portion of One's Steem Power to another account for their temporary use. This SP can be retrieved at any time, however the original holder may not use it for 1 week after undelegating. The temporary beneficiary or delegatee gets all the benefits of holding this SP but cannot power it down.|
|Power Down/Power Up||Powering up is the act of transferring Steem into Steem Power, whereas powering down conversely converts SP to Steem. While the act of powering up is instantaneous, powering down takes 13 weeks, wherein the total SP is divided by 13 and the divided amount is paid out in 13 consecutive weeks, starting 7 days from the moment of power-down.|
|Witness||Someone who owns a computer that runs the Steem blockchain software which processes all the transactions on the blockchain. This must be a very powerful computer and requires a lot of maintenance and thus witness are rewarded. Witnesses have the most power and influence on Steemit. Witnesses must be voted in by other Steemians using a "witness vote."|
|Reward Pool||As Witnesses process transactions (which come in the form of "blocks", hence "blockchain"), each block processed grants both a reward to the witness in the form of Steem Power and adds Vests to the Reward Pool. The Steem rewarded to the author and curators when a post pays out at the end of 7 days is drawn from this "pool".|
|Steem||A cryptocurrency unit that shows the value of Vests in relationship to the Reward Pool and that can be traded in an exchange and thus has a value in relation to other currencies.|
|Steem Based Dollar (SBD)||A unit of Steem that is supposed to be pegged to the U.S. Dollar. The idea behind SBD is that Steem is openly traded and volatile, whereas SBD is not, and is kept to as close to the value of the U.S. Dollar as possible. Although now you can actually trade SBD on a very limited selection of exchanges and it does not appear to be as pegged to the dollar as say Tether has been as it has reached as high as $9 USD per 1 SBD in the past.|
|Steem Power||This is Steem. Cryptographically speaking Steem and Steem Power are the same unit. The difference is that Steem Power is Steem that is "stored" and that directly determines the value of your upvote, as well as being one of the determining factors to your influence.|
|Steem Token Unit (STU)||The unit that is used to show the payout value of a post. Although there is a dollar sign ($) next to post payout values, this can be misleading. STU is divided into Steem, Steem Power and SBD at payout and is only used to show post payout value.|
|Influence||Every Steemit account has a number next to the account's name that represents the status of that account in the Steemit hierarchy. All new accounts start at 25 Influence. Influence is increased only by receiving an upvote on a post or comment by an account with higher influence. It's a way of seeing the duration of existence and level of involvement with the Steemit community of a particular account. Downvotes can cause Influence to lower and even reach negative values.|
|Flag||The exact opposite of an upvote, in which the value of the flag is removed from the total payout of the post.|
|Flag War||A situation where two or more accounts engage in continual flagging of each other's posts in an attempt to "banish" the other from the blockchain system because they will be unable to produce profits or gains.|
|Resteem||This is just Steemit lingo for sharing someone else's post onto your Steemit profile.|
Thank you for reading what I hope has been an informative and comprehensive guide to getting the most out of Steemit. This article is actually one of several that I have written to help artists make the transition into this wonderful and weird world of cryptocurrencies and social media. Please check out these other articles I wrote.