I am seeing the accounts of my friends on Steemit and I realize that many don't use the compounding machine that Steem is. In this post I will go through some basics that everyone needs to understand and incorporate into to their Steem activity in order to get the most out of their accounts.
Steem Power You Need, Young Padavan!
The whole Steem ecosystem works with Steem Power (SP). The more SP you have the higher will be your upvotes. If you have a new account your upvote will be considered a dust-vote because it is so small that it looks like $0.00 but it is actually worth something outside of the visible scale. You can earn SP with your posts and comments as well as by upvoting and collecting curation rewards. On Steemit all posts reserve 25% of the payout for the curators (at least in theory, currently it is more complicated but that will get better with the next hardfork 20 or 21 - I will leave it at that for simplicity).
So, if you don't need to pay your bills with your earned rewards then there is only one thing you should do with them: Power them up. This means that you are vesting your Steem into the Steem ecosystem which transforms it into Steem Power, enabling you to all its benefits. You can do so directly from you Steemit wallet by clicking on Steem and select the Power Up function. You can also power up your Steem Blockchain Dollars (SBD) which you have earned but first you need to convert them into Steem. For that you can use the internal market or any exchange that supports SBD like Bittrex (Binance only supports Steem, not SBD).
Use Your Voting Power Daily
Another concept that is difficult to understand is your voting power and how that influences your upvotes and curation rewards. In order to balance the upvote system everyone has a voting power that depletes by 2% with each full upvote (you can make smaller upvotes on Steemit as soon as you hit 500 SP; other Steem-platforms allow you to do that without a minimum of SP). It takes 2.4 hours to recharge those 2% automatically. That means that you can upvote ten posts a day with your full power which consumes 20% voting power. Within 24 hours you have that back. Annoyingly, Steemit doesn't show you that voting power. But you can find it on Busy.org - which is an alternative Steem frontend - or on SteemWorld or SteemNow.
As soon as you hit 100% voting power your account sits idle and does not do anything. This should NEVER happen if you want to grow your account. You are basically loosing money during that idle time. In order to earn curation rewards effectively you must burn these 20% of voting power every day. If you are very active and if you love to discover new authors and posts without caring much about the amount of curation rewards you earn then doing this manually is the best choice for you.
Automize Your Upvotes With @SteemAuto
With the free service of SteemAuto I am able to manage all the people I want to support (currently over 50!) and get the vote in just at the right time. Because if you upvote a post before the 30 minute mark after publishing you will earn less. And if you come late and many others have already upvoted the post you will also get less. It is really complicated but basically what you need to know is that it is very beneficial to upvote a post at exactly 30 minutes. That way, you upvote it as early as you get the full curation rewards but still early enough to come before most of the manual voters.
To setup SteemAuto you need your private posting key and private active key to connect your account via the secure 3rd-party plugin SteemConnect. After you have enabled your account go to "Fanbase". Here you can follow any Steem account and make sure to upvote it automatically after a specific delay time. Set it to 30 minutes (other times are possible and it makes sense to micro-manage that for each user but that is already the pro-approach; For more about that check out this post). You can also limit the daily upvotes. I have most people on one upvote per day.
It requires some trial-and-error to figure out how much upvote weight you want to give to each user. A 100% upvote equals burning 2% of your voting power. A 50% upvote burns 1% voting power and so on. The smaller the weight, the more you can distribute your upvotes to various people. I use values between 5% and 100% for the people I upvote. You should observe your voting power during the following days and adjust your Steemauto settings if it drops below 80%. You should always aim to keep voting power equilibrium or you will burn too much and it will take too long to regenerate. Also, with lower voting power your upvotes will be worth accordingly less and hence your curation rewards will be lower as well.
Sell-Off Your Idle Time With @SmartSteem
Even with SteemAuto you can never really know if you avoid having an idle time at 100% voting power. Sometimes the service doesn't work and sometimes the people on your fanbase will be less active. To make sure that you are still using your voting power all the time and never let it go to waste you should use SmartSteem as well. This is another free 3rd-party app for Steem that requires your private keys via SteemConnect to activate. It will allow you to sell your votes to people who want to promote their posts by paying for it with Steem and SBD.
In general, I think selling your votes is a cool feature to make some money on the fly but not really beneficial for the Steem blockchain if everyone would do that all the time. However, in this method we are only selling any potential idle-time. Go to "Sell Your Votes" and enable that feature by authorizing your account on the bottom of the page. Then set the "Voting Power Threshold" to 99%. This way, you will always allow SmartSteem to sell your votes as soon as you hit 99% voting power and stop doing so when you drop below. This is merely a fallback-system and might never trigger if you support enough people with SteemAuto.
Congratulations! You have now a fully automated Steem account that will always support your favorite Steemians and use your voting power to its maximum. To me this is invaluable because I put focus on supporting people - NOT POSTS. So I don't care how great a single post of a person I follow is. They will always get the same upvote weight from me.
I still read most of the posts I upvote automatically but mostly much later after I already voted for them. And when I discover any kind of abuse or change in quality I can adjust or remove my voting behaviour quickly. Tell me what you think about this kind of approach.