My takeaway: you must understand what's trending here before you'll ever write content here that trends. But first, let me introduce myself.
A lot of self-proclaimed writers (like me) came to Steemit (like I did, a week ago) in response to the promise that it was a place where good writing was not only appreciated, but financially compensated! This was good news for me - I already had a fairly successful (but unmonetized) blog, primarily due to the venn diagrams I produce showing the overlap of progressive politicians and big business via the government's revolving door. These venns often go viral on Reddit and Facebook, I see them pop up in YouTube videos a lot, and many authors email me requesting to reprint them in new books being written.
I'm also the author of an economics textbook for kids, Cost Benefit Jr. But enough about me.
What I've Learned about Steemit So Far
As a new minnow, I want to encourage the other minnows who seem to be growing more and more discouraged, after their first five or 10 well-written masterpieces of writing are ignored. Nobody's really admitting this outwardly, but what you suspect is actually true, and I'll state it categorically: the new minnow is not immediately recognized on Steemit for their great content, regardless of how great that content is.
That's not because the platform is flawed; it's because life is never going to work like that.
The Steemit environment is much more like an ecosystem than most people are used to. They've lived in a highly regulated environment in which most members are protected from true competition. Their grades in school were adjusted to a curve. Their investments and positions were weakened by insurances they didn't purchase, but were forced to buy/fund with tax dollars. In an effort to avoid risk, society has been averaging them in, while regulating and dampering life down to the point where true freedom feels threatening and true competition feels unfair. Most minnows believed the promise that Steemit rewards good content, but failed to realize that in a free society, it's never society's (Steemit's) job to uncover that good content and reward it. It's the minnow's job to get their society's attention.
My advice: if you want to be recognized and compensated for that great content only you can produce, you need to invest in the platform first. And no, not with money. You need to invest yourself. You do this as you would attempting to profit in any market, by contributing "work." Sometimes that work is done by mining blockchain, and eventually that work will be expressed by writing great content, but ultimately it's done first by learning the lay of the land - mastering your new environment.
You must understand what's trending here before you'll ever write content here that trends.
Initially, I didn't understand this environment - this ecosystem - but in the week I've been here I've noticed that what is most valuable here is content pertaining to the world of cryptocurrency. This is obvious from the trending posts and shouldn't surprise anyone; Steemit is a huge manifestation from and experiment in that world. So I began to focus on the world of cryptocurrency myself. Not to write posts about it, but to understand it, to discuss it, and to recognize something valuable being said about it. You must understand what's trending here before you'll ever write content here that trends.
But just understanding the environment isn't enough - you have to master it. You have to show the animals already living and competing and succeeding in this ecosystem that you're here, that you get it, and that you want to be involved in it. You do that by engaging them (commenting) and by showing you understand this ecosystem's landscape (curating). In explaining Curation Rewards, Steemit tells you what they want from you: "Steem recognizes that sifting through the abundance of new submissions is work that deserves to be rewarded." That's because your understanding of what's valuable here, what is likely to trend - that knowledge is valuable to the system as a whole. As you contribute this work (not your writing work, but this work, which the system finds more valuable right now), your reputation number will increase. And once your reputation is high enough (based on your history of work, reflecting your understanding of this environment), your content will begin to affect the lay of the land. The community will begin to trust your perspective, they'll invest back in you, and you'll have the reputation and clout necessary to start affecting trends here. It's at that point you can start writing posts that will be appreciated and compensated.
@tracemayer offers possibly the best advice to minnows by clarifying their incentive; he says Steem Power derives value from the fact that it increases your chance of getting someone's attention. Check out his interview What is the Steem Network and how does it work? to better understand this environment.
@stellabelle also gives excellent (and similar) advice in How I Achieved The #1 Reputation Ranking On Steemit And How You Can Improve Yours.
For now, pay attention to what's happening here. Learn how to curate. It involves predicting what will trend - it's not hard, and shows you've done the work: you've studied your environment and you understand it. And notice that in the beginning, you'll make more money commenting on a trending post than trying to create a trending post.
geke.us is a website – for geeks who eke – dedicated to making economic concepts easy to understand. Our economics curriculum for kids, Cost Benefit Jr., uses stories to show how things like opportunity cost, sharing, and marginal utility actually work in a child's world. We also produce the venn diagrams showing the overlap of government and big business.