Visited one of my Old Blogs Today, and had a Realization About Steemit — Some Perspective

in blog •  last year

I did something unusual today. 

I had been thinking about how almost all my social content these days is created here on Steemit, so I decided to visit one of my other old blogs-- and did the almost unthinkable: I wrote a blog post somewhere else!

Sunset
Northern winter sunset

It was a bit of an experiment, in a sense, a sort of private "testing the waters" of the allegations (or "complaints?") I often bump into where fellow Steemians lament that their posts don't get read, and sometimes they end up with three times more "votes" than actual "page reads."

Now, before I go any further, allow me to add a frame of reference here: Steemit is not "my first rodeo;" I've been blogging for 20 years. My blogs are supported by a network social sites and notification systems built up over almost as much time.

People Seem Less Inclined to "Trust" Sites They are not Familiar With

Many of us are probably guilty of thinking of Steemit as "The Center of the Universe" but we're still pretty small fry.

blossoms
Cherry blossoms

Now granted, the blog I made a post to is "old and established," but I haven't been very active with it in the past year. And yet? Within two hours of posting, it had already been viewed 470 times. My guess is that by this time tomorrow, it will have been viewed 2,000+ times.

For comparison, I have fairly few posts here on Steemit that get viewed even 100 times. 

The noteworthy thing is that posting about a Blogger post to Facebook and twitter — to the SAME group of people — gets far more reads than posting a Steemit post to the same outlets. From which I can only surmise that there must be a lower "trust factor" when it comes to content posted on web sites people are not familiar with. 

Of course, that's just guessing.

Either way, though, it seems like we have LONG way to go, yet! Steemit is not a "household name," except in specialty circles.

Who Looks at Our Posts?

The Steemit user interface is incredibly simplistic compared to most blog host sites.

One of the things we really don't have here is Visitor Logs. Granted, visitor logs are probably only used by about the 2% of bloggers occupying the top of the blogosphere. But it's cool to know where your readers come from. 

GrapeHyacinths
Grape Hyacinths

Yes, of course we can use a blockchain explorer to see who voted and commented on our posts, but that doesn't include people who simply read, and who found our posts from Google, Bing or somewhere else.

"Who cares? I just care about upvotes and followers!"

::: Sigh :::

That does seem to be the pervasive and dominant attitude around here. It's a bit sad, though.

The reason it's sad is that being 100% bogged down in "economics" rather than content is precisely the hurdle that will likely stand between Steemit and large scale adoption by a more "general" audience. 

Since my very first post comment here, I have been trying to get people to understand the subtle — but very important — difference between approaching this community from a "creating content and getting rewarded" perspective rather than a "posting TO get rewarded" perspective.

They may sound like the same thing, but they are not.

Azalea
Azalea in bloom

In one, the content "leads," in the other the rewards "lead."

In case it's still not clear, let me offer an "outside life" analogy as an illustration. Here's a generally true statement:

"Doctors make a lot of money."

Most people will probably nod and recognize the truth in that.

Now, we can approach this "fact" from two angles:

EITHER we can really want to be a doctor and excel at healing people, as a RESULT of which we make a lot of money...

OR we can become a doctor in order TO make a lot of money... but not really care about healing people. Sure, we know how to practice medicine, but it's secondary to becoming RICH!

If something is wrong with you, which doctor would you rather see?

Now, let's bring it back to Steemit. What do you think will create a more interesting community: Focusing on the content, or focusing on the money?

The Steemit Interface is Feature Poor

So anyway, I created my post on my other blog. 

In doing so I have to admit that in its current format, the Steemit user interface is sadly lacking in the sorts of features demanded by a mainstream social media audience. 

Where are my photo albums?

Yellow
Some incredibly bright yellow shrub getting ready to bloom

Where's my ability to sort my followers into groups?

Where are my keyword analysis tools? 

Where is my social media promotional integration? 

Where are my traffic stats analysis tools?

Now I also recognize that there will be some voices that will speak up and say "Yeah, but you can use this and that app for that!"

Which brings us to my next observation: Steemit is very "developer friendly" but it's really not "content creator friendly.

That's not a problem in and of itself; it's merely "a state of affairs." But it DOES work as a limiter on the potential reach of Steemit. 

The average social media/social content user doesn't WANT to use half a dozen "helper apps" to make social media site do something. They want everything in one place, drag and drop, plug and play, easy to use and intuitive, off you go!

We don't have that here. 

If we want a snowball in hell's chance of getting even... let's say... ten million users, we need some serious upgrading!

Here's Where Steemit Kills Everywhere Else!

Don't get me wrong, I still think Steemit is awesome, and I'm not deserting or anything. I'm just bringing some "outside perspective" home.

Where Steemit totally dominates is in the categories of "community" and "engagement."

Mountains
It may be spring, but the snow is not far away!

Even in the relatively short time it has taken me to write this post, my "other" blog post has moved from 470 to 655 page views. But guess what?

So far, all those people have managed to leave me only one solitary comment-- on a post that is no less engaging to its target audience than anything I post here... which routinely gets 20-50+ comments, per post!

And that's where we stand head and shoulders above anything else out there!

Now, I'm not going to bring "rewards" into the picture, because — quite frankly — I think rewards are a little "derailed" at the moment. That is, there's a substantial "disconnect" between content and the rewards content earns. I'd love to think that my 3,800 "followers" would think these 1,200-odd words interesting enough to vote into into the "hot" or "trending" feeds, but that's very unlikely... since whether or not this post is "good" or "interesting" has very little to do with whether it earns Steemit rewards.

My point here is mostly that we do have a lot of work to do before ANYone's dreams of "Steemit as a mass-market commodity" have any chance of coming true.

Well, that's about it for random observations at the moment; I now return to my usual "programming."

What about YOU? Do you keep any other blogs, aside from Steemit? If you DO, have those other venues "suffered" since you started here? Do you think we are missing some basic features before we can hope to "go mainstream" here? Do you maintain other social media accounts (Facebook, twitter, Instagram, etc), and do you use them to support your blogging? What would you MOST like to see as a new feature on Steemit? Leave a comment-- share your experiences-- be part of the conversation!

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Yeah, this is pretty much spot on. I have been blogging for a while and certainly got way more page views on my other blogs. I have let them go completely fallow, even though everything you say about Steemit's limitations are of course totally true. There is a part of me that thinks Steemit, Inc is intentionally keeping steemit.com crappy precisely to encourage developers of 3rd party apps and web front ends - if anyone with any kind of programming/developing knowledge can think to themselves "I can do better", that is a powerful incentive to do it. I don't really believe this, deep down, but you have to admit there is very little evidence to the contrary to argue against this. The website is terrible and lacking rudimentary functionality that could be added by a few developers working part time for a few weeks. Content discovery is the biggest one for me. I don't care so much that I have to use HTML to format my blog posts, I use HTML to format my blog posts even on blogger. But that I can't filter posts with any kind of advanced search tools, or save favorite users to receive notifications when they post, is terrible. At this point I think it is more likely that a 3rd party app or website is going to be the one who provides a workable version of Steem, I have very little faith that steemit.com is going to be it.

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Nice to see you @carlgnash; thanks for the pretty accurate summary.

Reading between the lines of a LOT of posts, I seem more and more of a subtext emerge that Steemit is awesome for developers, not so much for content creators. Steemit is a bit like someone building a bigger and bigger apartment building with more and more rooms, adding more and more rec room features, but not actually doing anything to see whether the teneants are happy... let alone GETTING tenants. "But it's awesome if you're in the construction business!"

I don't think STINC much cares about this as a platform for content. They have visions of sugarplums... ehrmm... SMT dollar signs dancing in their eyes and everything else has become pretty secondary; tertiary, even.

As a fellow curator and content "consumer" I agree that this place totally ROTS. I can only keep up with my favorite people because I have my own set of bookmark folders (that have NOTHING to do with Steemit) to check on them-- manually. At the very LEAST, I wish we had the ability to sort followers into "groups" like you can on Facebook and Twitter. The content itself? "Discovering" content is always an adventure... mostly, I find it via "intelligent" comments on the posts of people I already read. Alas, that doesn't give newcomers much of a chance... although I occasionally force myself to refresh the #introduceyourself feed for an hour or two.

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Interesting you say that RE finding people through comments - that has become one of my primary curation strategies (I am a top curator for @curie). Finding clusters of "good people" amidst the sea of spam and just plain old crap posting. As soon as I see an intelligent commenter I check out their blog and more importantly look at their feed - real people tend to follow real people who resteem good posts. But it takes a lot of work. I also use SQL query (and paid subscription to @arcange's SteemSQL database) to curate and keep up with favorite posters and that is very efficient, but costs me 10 SBD a month.

BTW if you haven't already, check out @thefreshfive . It is a dailycuration effort focused on the #introduceyourself tag, bringing you 5 recently introduced Steemians daily. I know the folks behind this effort and they are awesome, and I support it with upvotes for the daily posting and upvotes for the featured newcomers with my @r-bot curation account. It is an easy way to bring a steady stream of newcomers into your awareness without any effort :) LOL Much love - Carl

My wordpress blog has had literally millions of views - BUT - it's never earned me a cent...

http://www.frot.co.nz/design/blog/

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I guess that IS one of the cool things about Steemit-- we get a few dimes here and there. Even though several of my blogs are "monetized," even the busiest one (about 40K views a month) only ends up getting me about $300-400 a year from a combination of Google Adsense and Amazon links. When I was really working on blogging, that meant I was making a stellar 50c an hour, woo-hoo!

I like your concept, though-- interesting blog.

In my view the most obvious function steemit needs to provide is to allow users full control of how posts and replies are ordered. 100% stake weighted order is grossly incorrect and embarrassing.

With a little innovation steemit can give users full control of the content they are exposed to and in what order. this is something that centralized organizations have never and will never do.

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DO NOT FOLLOW any instruction and DO NOT CLICK on any link in the comment!
For more information, read this post: https://steemit.com/steemit/@arcange/phishing-site-reported-upperwhale
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Yeah, already flagged that one right out the chute.

I do like your anti-fraud initiative, though-- so have an upvote.

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Thank you for your support

For many, money leads as the extrinsic motivator, with content as as secondary focus, dropping intrinsic motivation under extrinsic. I've talked about similar things as you in the past. We see eye to eye on much.

The features are lacking indeed. A simple tab for seeing new comments was suggested over a year ago, it's not there even though it's simply to add... Steemit inc. doesn't seem to really care about doing things that will improve user retention... like functions for increasing interaction. Messaging system was also suggested... but nope... don't add that to the site even if it can't be on the blockchain... Making a one-stop-market for all functionality is needed for onboarding mainstream users, but that isn't a focus at all at all at all...

So many people here don't care about content. For them it's all about their stake and doing short-sighted things that they think will increase their stake. Money leads. So many times I've read 'popular' people talk about how content and quality doesn't matter. They really don't get it at all. Money has blinded them.

Can we just appreciate how objective this piece is? Thanks for sharing your experience with us ( and using beautiful photos) while at it. I love Steemit alot but I still find myself making content for other media. I love Steemit for the engagement is genuine and alot but still, there are some people that you may want to target who are elsewhere. I think it is all about finding a balance.

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I admit that I have mostly kept some of my other social connects "alive" with an eye towards using them as a "recruiting platform" for Steemit. At least, that was my intention a year ago. I'm not so sure, anymore... Steemit is a very cool venue, but things are very slow in developing into something that would have more mass market appeal, and I'm not going to stake my reputation on something that's still a bit dodgy.

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I am also kinda going through the same. Like I need to be sure first before going 100% in. I think in a few months/ one year one would be in a position to make that decision. And it was wise to not abandon everything else.

Thanks for this piece.
I once started a blog last year https://gcnstories.blogspot.com where i was putting up inspirational writeups and story episodes. But at a point i got tired of the blog because I applied for Google AdSense severally with my posts being original but my application was always being turned down for reasons they keep repeating over and over.
I left blogging because i was in dare need of source of income to handle some needs as a student. Then i learnt about bitcoin trading, it was in the course of learning trading that i met @lordidama1 who introduced me to the steem platform and it has being interesting since January I joined the platform.
The rewards for the mean time but I still enjoy writing and visiting other people's blog to read and keep myself busy and also to stay out of boredom since i don't have a girlfriend and am not married

You summed it up perfectly by saying how Steemit has good engagement, but the other sites have better "views" overall.

It's frustrating. You would think that all of those basic features - grouping photos together and stuff like that - would be an easy, low-hanging-fruit kind of thing for Steemit Inc. However I've learned that when it comes to blockchain, nothing is an easy as it seems.

For all its flaws, Steemit is a Top ~1,000 globally popular website and we're doing great. This current recession is a coincidence due to BTC. So I'm optimistic. I think we may have a slower growth curve (with perhaps a more extreme hockey stick at the end) than we expected as things heated up last year.

In the meantime I'm starting to use Instagram to try and build a broader audience alongside my core Steem crew.

Being new to social media I have no experience trying to blog for an audience. The path I am trying to take is to post what is real for me. With more experience I hope to do that in a way that viewers find interesting enough to come back. LOL, if I get a look in the first place. But that will come with time.
It is impressive the amount of feed back you get from your posts.

I appreciate your perspective. This is my first attempt at blogging.
Thanks for sharing your experiences.

I so agree with you. The feature I miss most is "notifications." It's what set Facebook apart from MySpace years ago. Who wants to have to check every tab of their page to see if anything happened?

Hear ye ... hear ye. I am still a relative newbie on steemit but I agree with everything you say. I would really love to see the platform get focus. I have had a lot of success networking on steemit and a posts now and then gets more than a 100 views. This is about standard, maybe even better for me than other sites, but I think I may not be so good at meta data. I would love to haul a bucket load of people from other sites over here. I have brought a few over but it so rough going for newbies. I have stopped suggesting the platform. I hope the powers that be will find a way to make it more new-comer friendly and then I would recruit like no-buddies business. But until then I just keep plodding along and sharing my steemit work on FB and twitter. Thank you for this post, denmarkguy:)

I look forward to the time we can organize our content a little better/target different topics/areas like you would on, say, wordpress or blogger. That is one of the things I miss about my old blogging days.

Of course I also never made ANY money off of my blogs before. Views or not, the money didn't come forth. So I guess that while I'm looking forward to seeing new changes in the future and I agree that this interface definitely could use some updates (I was just reading yesterday that there are some coming soon), I'm still happy with the platform as a whole. I have been meeting some amazing people here and the networking has been awesome.

Great post and awesome points. I hope someone can come up with some solutions.

As I am not blogger I have no clue regarding the features you refer to.
After listening to some of @ned's interviews it is clear that Steemit was not originally intended as a social media platform. In his own words 'we had no idea what to do with it and my Mother started psoting....' I forget what she posted.
Anyway my understanding is that this place was not planned as a social media platform from the beginning.

I really love photo "Northern Winter sunset"

First of all great photo's, and you're analogy of the Doctor is spot on and right.
I havent ever blogged and this is my first time on steemit, I have to say that I know a few people that started when I did and after a month we all wanted to give up because there was not much feed back for the effort. Next to none!
I have only come to learn that my content needs to have people wanting to look at what Im presenting each day.
And as I watch and learn then my post will go from being a piece of bread to a banquet.
So it has me thinking new ones that have little reputation and get no response, how many are giving up. They can have great work and reading material, but not receive any feedback, how long will they last?

Very well put. I have a blog elsewhere (I own my own domain) and I have to admit I do most of my blogging there precisely because of the features I can have there, which Steemit is lacking. I especially like how it is my own space and I can filter and remove comments. I have actually taken a break from Steemit because I don't feel the same sense of wellbeing blogging on Steemit as I do blogging from my own website. For me it's not really about making money, but about getting my message out there, which I think I can do much better from my own website than from Steemit.

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In doing so I have to admit that in its current format, the Steemit user interface is sadly lacking in the sorts of features demanded by a mainstream social media audience.

I absolutely agree with that and I have not seen anyone addressing these points so far.

At the moment Steemit looks like a new website with basic blog functions but without the nice extras.

Something else I found: On Wordpress, for example, you can simply browse through plugins and install the ones you like on your website.

After setting them up they will be visible on the website. The developers could do the same thing for Steemit.

Create a menu link with all the plugins, apps & extra websites, like a directory.

On Twitter, you also had the option to direct message someone and chat with them. That option does not exist here.

And if one says "no that would result in too much spam" then you can simply mute them or disable your chat.

But there are many more things that could be improved here.

Excellent post. We really need to put things into perspective once in a while.
I did also blog for many years. My oldest blog goes back to 2006. One blog was about me learning Texas Holdem Poker, the other was about my sports betting adventures.
The poker was oke, it deed create a small group of followers. All poker bloggers and we had our weekly poker blogging tournament, which was always one of the highlights of the week!
The sports betting blog was more like a diary. Almost no interaction and no rewards!
As you can see my name reflects these periods. When I did subscribe to Steemit I was thinking about sports betting post, but never wrote about it. I was to tangled up with the cryptoworld and slowly shifted towards Steem and Steemit in general.
Both 2 blogs did had google adsense and in these 12 years and did bring up something around $8 :). (Both also ran on blogger)
On steemit I don't mind the money, I do see it as a nice side effect! I do like to interact with people and Steemit is a great platform for this!
In the 100 days that I have been here, I did post around 100 post and more than 1100 comments, I have never been so committed to any social media platform as here!
Indeed at the moment Steemit is not creator friendly, but that's why am I using busy.org to write my post, which has a much better editor.
I never look at how many people viewed my posts, because I am only interested in the interaction. That's why I try to reply on each genuine comment.
But to become a real social media platform, we need to focus more on interaction than (like you wrote) on the money!
Also one of the problems Steemit has, is that there are a lot of crypto enthusiast here. All bragging about their wins, but when the market takes a dip they are gone, cause they don't want to write about their losses! So we need more diverse people here!

Great post! I deifnitely agree.

When I first learned about Steemit I was very excited about it. But between here, my personal website, and the magazine I write for, I find myself still gravitating towards my other blogging mediums because they are far more content creator friendly and I can push out more content faster. I'd love to see some improvements made to Steemit that address some of the issues you brought up in your post.

Really good way of thinking about it. It never occured to me people might dismiss the platform because they haven't heard of it. Crazy thoughts.

Wise words and very true!

The reasons why I stick to this platform, no matter what, is the connection that I have been - and still am - making through it on an almost daily basis, the like minded people I meet on here and the therapeutic effect that (more or less) daily blogging has on me. Comments and feedback and all the stuff I learn by reading other people's posts are extremely helpful and the money is a bonus. Even though I am living entirely on crypto, haha. But, I hear you. It's far from perfect. It's very much stuck in its BETA stage. It's the closest that I can find to perfectionism though - I mean to what I have been looking for for a long, long time and I kind of like imperfection anyway.

Have a great remainder of the weekend!

Vincent

Great observations @denmarkguy. I ,too ,have Blogs over 10 years old. And the engagement is NO comparison to what I get here. Yeah, I do POst here and sometimes get no Comments. But there has been enough times where I have many Comments... enough to realize Steemit is far better than my traditional blogs :)

Hmmm... I'm actually not too familiar with Blogging outside of Steemit, but I recently started a HubPages account where I am writing once a week. I'm just beginning but got two features for their sister networks recently (after review). The first one had 76 views and has been up for a week. This view count definitely beats out most of the readership I've previously had on Steemit aside a few exceptions. My second post has been read once (despite featured twice).

What I didn't like was that I was emailed to change things in my first article... Including title. I also get no engagement through comments either. Although many of my Steemit posts have few if any replies to show, some of my recent posts are getting noticibly more engaement.

I think it's hard to hear about Steemit, and less user friendly. But as far as post-guidelines, there is a lot of room to play with.