Buried Treasure: Make Money Upvoting Reply Posts on Steemit
By Richard Kaplan, @steemship
The Voting Cheat Sheet taught you how to make serious money from upvoting blog posts. If you haven’t read it yet, you should (link below). Today, we’ll discuss another way to make money on Steemit: by voting on replies, not just the main blog posts. Of course, I will never advocate voting on bad content or anything with which you disagree. You should only vote for something if you believe it makes Steemit better.
Voting on reply posts: it seems like a simple idea, but it’s not. In order to make good money, there are opportunities to understand and recognize. There are also hurdles to appreciate and overcome, or else you will not make a dime using this strategy. But once you understand the reply post landscape and learn how to spot buried treasure, you can make some good money this way.
Before we go any further, let me warn you that upvoting replies isn’t an easy way to make money. The method is simple, but the work takes time. You’ll need to patiently dig through posts and scan the replies, getting ready to pounce when you see one. You’re not hoping to score a fist-sized gold nugget with this strategy; you’re aiming for a pan full of smaller pieces of gold that add up to a much larger profit.
But if you get good at this, then you can tap into a great source of income that few Steemit users have discovered yet.
If you want an easier way to make money by voting, you could stick with the Voting Cheat Sheet and its guidelines.
You can find it here:
In fact, this post is my first follow-up since that one, so I’d like to check in briefly on how the Voting Cheat Sheet’s advice is faring. In particular, I provided you with a list of All Star Posters to follow here on Steemit. Those are posters I pre-selected as having several top-paid posts and meeting other screening criteria. I then sorted the resulting list by frequency of posts up until that date, since it’s easier to follow someone who posts dependably.
Since I posted that Voting Cheat Sheet, someone following my advice would have kept a close eye on the following posters and jumped in as one of the first to upvote their posts.
Don’t forget that 50% of the income from every blog post goes to the voters. Those with the most Power Up value and those who upvote earliest make most of that share.
So how are we doing so far? Let’s check in on the All Star list I gave you. How much did they post and earn in the last two days? All numbers are estimates and they’re rounded.
Steemit founders’ posts: @dan, @dantheman, @ned, @ned-reddit-login, and any other addresses associated with the founders. To that list, I might also add @steemblog (presumably Ned) and @steemservices (which seems to be a group of insider witnesses). Well, I didn’t count the number of recent postings or potential income from this crowd, but they made several VERY profitable posts. @dantheman alone made two posts that totaled almost $5000. Make sure you follow these accounts’ blog postings. VERDICT: Anyone following them the last few days would have made money.
@steemrollin: In the last two days: 2 posts, total post earnings: $1977, average per post: $988. VERDICT: If you’re following this poster, your favorite color is gold.
@clains: In the last 2 days: 31 posts, total post earnings: $784, average per post: $25. H earns money, but his average has dropped considerably with a larger volume of posts. VERDICT: He still scores some big ones, but I did warn you about those philosophy posts. And videos this week. Some of his stuff is really good content, so you might consider upvoting his posts if you like them. But as a money-making proposition, a $25/post average will leave most upvoters with only pennies.
@donkeypong: In the last 2 days: 2 posts, total post earnings: $1399, average per post: $700. VERDICT: Follow him. A very profitable choice to upvote early.
@clayop: In the last 2 days: 1 post, $1.36. VERDICT: May have been busy elsewhere these past two days. VERDICT: I know it’s not much of a sample. I would keep following this poster for the reasons mentioned in the Voting Cheat Sheet.
@nextgencrypto: In the last 2 days: 1 post: $767. VERDICT: Right on the money again with this one.
@pharesim: In the last 2 days: 1 post: $115. Another great choice, especially now that I spelled that name correctly in the cheat sheet.
@arhag: In the last 2 days: 2 posts, total post earnings: $610, average per post: $305. Very solid bet. As they used to say in Al Capone’s Chicago, back when cemeteries turned out 100% of their voters, “Vote early and vote often”. Well, we don’t want to vote too often, but the early part is good advice.
7, 8, 10 and 12. Did not post in last 2 days. VERDICT: It’s only been two days, but if the post volume continues to be low, it may not be worth your time to follow them as closely.
OVERALL VERDICT: The All Star list is gold. It’s platinum plated with gold. If you had followed the posters on this list and jumped in early with upvotes, you would have shared part of the 50% of the $5597 these posts earned. No, wait, we forgot to add in the founders’ posts. A quick check shows us that @dantheman made two posts worth almost $5,000 combined. All told, that gives us over $10,000 net from the posts on our All Star list.
Voters get 50% of the $10,000, so how would you like a big chunk of that pot? Not bad for two days of “work”.
As always, save some of your daily upvotes for posts that help build Steemit: every day, look for and upvote some blog posts from posters who are new, poor, or create good content that makes Steemit better. I save half of my votes for good content and use others to pick winning posts.
Honestly, I’ve had worse jobs than being an upvoter. By the way, what will you write on your tax return as your Occupation? When an attractive person at a bar asks you what you do for a living, what will you tell him/her?
Occupation: Voter. I’ll bet you’ll get audited for sure.
Bar scene: “Hi, nice to meet you, I’m Chris. Really, you’re a Nurse? Cool, I’m a Clicker.”
For something more appropriately foo-foo, maybe you could tell them you’re a Content Curator!
Curating Reply Posts
Now on to what I promised. Again, the rest of this post is about mining for gold nuggets in the reply posts. It’s not as easy as just clicking; you have to dig a little through posts to find these gems. But they’re worth it. And you don’t have much competition in this space. Reply comments are being pretty well ignored so far by Steemit voters.
A Brief Overview of Reply Trees and How They Are Paid
Here is a screenshot of a reply tree on Steemit.
That reply tree shows responses to an original post from @nextgencrypto. Here is a map of how the reply tree looked, showing the hierarchy of comments that readers posted in response to NextGen’s original post. I’m stretching it out a bit visually so we can see the relationship.
There were additional replies to this original post, and we cannot see @xeroc’s estimated payment on this screen, but the portion we need to understand is all in the first branch of the reply tree. Let’s make sure we understand how the pieces fit and then we will look at the estimated revenue from these replies.
You can see that @nextgencrypto made the original posting, which was worth $14,306 based on 106 upvotes (some of them, no doubt, from voters with serious Power Up strength).
Next, @marketingmonk and @xeroc both responded to the original posting. These two replies are co-equal, at the same level in our hierarchy. I have labeled them Response I and Response II. Let’s focus on Response I’s branch. I think this will help you understand how reply trees work.
Here is the reply tree for Response I again, this time with dollar figures added to represent the estimated monetary value of the post and its replies. This is an unusually rich posting that also stimulated a good discussion. You can see that all four of the posters/responders in this reply tree made money. Not only did the posters/responders make money, but so did their upvoters. More on that soon.
What are we looking at there? How does this money break down? The numbers are estimates of the monetary value which will be paid at the next payout to the people involved in it. Remember that at payouts, half of the value is paid in STEEM Dollars, while the other half will go into the user’s Power Ups. After being paid out, this balloon will deflate and fall to the bottom of the post list, making room for whatever content voters wish to reward next.
The original post is worth $14,306, but its author @nextgencrypto will get only a piece. Payouts are divided equally between the authors of the post tree and its curators (voters). Regarding authors, @nextgencrypto is not the only author here; the reply comments also are getting payments based on what they contributed to the post’s value. That value is hard for us to determine because it depends upon votes and so forth, but we don’t really need to determine it ourselves because there is a number already attached to each reply post. The example above shows the values of each of these replies.
When someone posts a reply comment and it gets upvoted enough, it also will make money. In the real-life example above, we can see the estimate for what each reply comment is worth. Where does that money go? Half goes to the voters who voted on that post (we’ll get back to this part soon). Then take the other half and split that equally again between the author of that reply and the reply post’s parents. So if a posting (which could be a reply posting) is worth $100, then $50 goes to the voters, $25 goes to the post’s author, and $25 goes up to the parent posting(s) (if there are none, then the author keeps that part, too).
When I say the parents, I really mean the parent post and its grandparent posts and any earlier generations in the hierarchy. You see, all of them get paid a part for their role in creating or advancing the discussion.
Each time one is paid, the generation above (call that the parent) gets a share, and then half of that goes up to the generation above (call it grandparent), and if there is a higher generation (great-grandparent), then it would share in half of that share, etc. The final stop in this chain is the original post. Sometimes, the original post will be right above a reply comment, while in other situations this payment is coming back up the line through a number of different levels, each one taking its cut but always leaving half, of a half, of a half, of a half, etc., for the higher-level post in that hierarchy.
In the example above, Response IA1 did not make money (but the original author posted it, so we don’t feel too bad). If it had made money, then half of its author’s payment would be split with the author of its parent, Response IA, and half of that would go to the author of Response I, all the way up to the original post. Similarly, Response IA gets a payment to the author, who gives a cut to Response I, its parent post, and that one in turn gives a share to the original post.
This is very rough, and it may be a bit oversimplified, but this basic knowledge sets us up for the next part, which involves you making money from voting.
And 50% goes to the curators (voters)
Remember that the discussion above only dealt with 50% of the post’s value. That was the part going to authors. Now we’ll look at the other 50%, which goes to the curators (voters) who discovered that post and helped elevate it to where it was rewarded by more voters. Remember, in a $100 post, the author and any parents share $50, while the voters get the other $50.
How much the voters take home will depend upon their voting power. The more value a user has vesting from Power Ups, the greater that person’s voting power will be. And the system also rewards any curator who discovered this post and helped it succeed. So the early voters have larger shares of the total than later voters do.
To understand this with a practical example, we need to put aside the Power Up voting power for now. It’s very important and we’ll cover it soon, but for now we’ll ignore it. Let’s assume that everyone voting on a post brings the same voting weight to it.
At this point, we will turn to Steemit co-founder and CTO Dan Larimer’s explanation of voting power. You can see just how important it is to get in early. Later votes will still share in the rewards, but it will be much less than the earlier votes get.
In a post entitled, How to Maximize Curation Awards (link at the end of this document), Dan provided the following insight and illustration. When he mentioned a user having multiple votes, he was explaining the importance of voting power. However, that is a subject I’m putting aside for now. Just look at the relative weights of the first four votes in his first table below, imagining that each voter has equal voting power.
“Someone who adds 1 vote to a post that already has 99 votes will get a weight of
The order of voting matters. Given 4 users with 1 vote, and 1 user with 4 votes the
payout received by individual voters can be dramatically different. If the 1 vote
users vote first, then their weights will be:
Vote: 1, 1, 1, 1, 4
Weights: 100, 25, 9, 6, 25
Percent: 60%, 15%, 5%, 3%, 15%
If the order were reversed then the weights would be:
Vote: 4, 1, 1, 1, 1
Weights: 100, 4, 3, 2, 2
Percent: 90%, 3%, 2%, 2%, 2%”
That first table shows how much extra power the first few voters have, even when someone with a larger stake is voting fifth. Again, ignore the voting strength of the Power Up king there, which I will address soon.
Voting on Reply Posts is a Moneymaking Opportunity
Going back to my earlier example with the $14,306 post by @nextgencrypto, that original post got 106 votes. People are looking for posts like that to jump in on quickly, just as you should. That is why I wrote the Voting Cheat Sheet which I discussed again earlier. Big money is available there.
But 100 voters? That’s some stiff competition. If you slept in late, you missed the party. Would it even be worth jumping in late in that game? $14K is a rich pot, but if you are the 56th or 89th voter to upvote that one, are you really going to make much from doing so? Probably not, and probably those upvoters selected it because it really was a good post and worthy of their approval.
As a moneymaking opportunity, think for a moment about the reply posts you have seen. They have dollar figures attached, too. These generally are smaller amounts of money. But in general, reply posts also offer far less competition – they do not get that many votes.
What to look for in Reply Posts
There are several important considerations if you want to make money voting on reply posts.
Reply posts generally are not worth as much as original parent posts, so you need to find ones that either (A) have a decent-sized dollar amount listed already or (2) which you think will rise in popularity.
Unless they are in line for payouts worth thousands of dollars (which is very rare), then only the first few upvoters will make any money from voting on most reply posts.
And now we get to the part about voting stakes. It REALLY matters how much vested strength you have via Power Ups. In Dan Larimer’s two tables above, look at how much more relative weight the voter with “four votes” gets. It’s proportional. This shows that someone with additional voting weight really will suck up the energy fast.
If you don’t have much invested in this system through Power Ups, then your only real shot at making money on voting is by jumping in early. Being early is even more critical with reply post voting, since there is usually less money to be distributed. The good news for reply post voting is that fewer people realize this opportunity exists. That means that if you look for hidden gems, you’ll generally be given more time to find them.
Look for posts that have upvotes. One upvote is common, and often it is the original poster thanking the reply poster for making a good comment. Just because a reply post has one upvote does not suggest it will get more.
If a reply already has four or more upvotes, then it would have to be a really “rich” one to bother upvoting for the sake of sharing in its bounty.
So for most posts, the sweet spot is right around two or three upvotes. In that range, there is money to be made. You are getting in early enough that you will have a greater-than-average impact and payout from the reply post.
For newer posts, you can even bet on reply posts that do not have any upvotes yet or maybe have one. If the original post/blog/article seems like a good one, but you’ve missed your chance to make any real money upvoting it, you may still have a chance to jump in with the reply comments. These lag a bit behind, so the opportunity lasts longer.
You can even add your own reply comment if the post doesn’t have one yet. As soon as you submit your reply post, upvote it yourself. Then if it becomes popular, you are first in line to make some cash.
If there is a particular good original post, then it’s very likely that someone will reply with a “Great post. I really liked …” type comment. If it’s just “Great post” that probably won’t score many upvotes. And if it’s a page long, people won’t upvote it because they don’t have time to read it all. But if it is an obviously positive response AND it adds just a bit more (maybe 2-5 lines long), then it has a good chance to become what I would call the “legacy reply” for that posting tree.
As you probably know, the reply posts are sorted from most to least popular, so those getting upvoted more will appear on top. Ideally you want anything you have voted on to either be on top already or be able to reach the top with your vote. That’s the most visible position.
If there are no other replies that offer substantive comments or continue the topic’s discussion, then the “legacy reply” will probably appear on top. If you like an original post and think that it’s worthy, you can even write your own legacy post and upvote it immediately.
The nice thing about a legacy post is that it’s right there on top. Upvoting it often is easier than adding another comment, so many readers in a hurry will just upvote the top reply. This includes Steemit’s whales (those who hold the most vests and voting stake), so if you’ve jumped in as the Number 1, 2, or 3 poster and a whale or founder then upvotes it after you, some money will quickly be added to the pot in which you claimed a nice stake.
The other thing to look for is the depth of the reply tree discussion. There are a lot of these in the technical topics/tags on Steemit, because developers and programmers still represent a huge proportion of the people involved at this early stage. Often in the more complex trees, you will see a reply post that is down a couple of levels and it doesn’t have many upvotes, but it’s sharing in the bounty of the others in its tree branch. Keep an eye out for this. If you don’t claim your stake, someone will jump into that line ahead of you.
Jumping in at a good time
Take a look at this screenshot. You will see that there is a valuable reply comment here that did not have many upvotes. Of course, it can only be that “rich” if a whale or two already has stopped by and upvoted it, which means your remaining share is limited. But getting in your upvote with the 2nd, 3rd, or 4th position can still make you some real money.
Note that I moused-over the drop-down arrow next to the vote total. When you do this, it shows you the names of the people who have voted on it already. It also shows you what position your relative voting weight carries. In this one, mine is last/lowest, but it’s still Number Four for a comment that’s worth some money and that could pick up more support as this stays on Steemit. One thing about Q and A’s (this particular posting is in the Health category/tag) is that they can continue to be practical and valuable for people for a while.
Some people will read this article and be horrified that I am advocating the horrible practice of voting for profit. I am highlighting this opportunity because I believe that new users and poor users deserve a chance to make good money on Steemit also, and not everyone wants to write thesis-length posts like I do. But despite my apparent detachment, I will never recommend voting blindly or irresponsibly. Know what you are voting on and feel good about it.
DO NOT upvote something that represents bad content or something you think is wrong. That would be a perversion of Steemit’s system and I will not condone it. Your voting power plays an essential role in helping Steemit select the best content to feature. Know what you are voting on and feel good about it before using your power this way. Fortunately, there is enough high quality material, even in reply posts, that a lot of the material posted really is quite good.
Also, as always, I will urge you to use many of your votes to upvote very worthy content on Steemit. Find good blog posts, posts by newer users, and posts by poorer users. They need recognition, support, and encouragement. Divide your voting power each day so that you use some votes to make money and others to select and reward people who are posting quality material. That is the best way we can help Steemit grow in terms of content quantity and quality.
Even today, you can still find buried treasure, hidden in the reply trees of old posts, days or weeks after the post has been made. Voting on reply comments really is a great opportunity to make extra money on Steemit. You won’t get rich from finding one or two, but the longer you can spend looking for these, the more money you can make.
I hope that you have found this information helpful and look forward to working with you on building Steemit. As a reminder, always remember to save some of your votes (25-75%) for upvoting good content and posts from new or poor users who need support and encouragement. That is the best way for us to grow Steemit.
Yours truly, Richard, @steemship
How to interpret Steemit’s post valuations: https://steemit.com/steem/@dantheman/how-to-interpret-steemits-post-valuations
How to Maximize Curation Awards, https://steemit.com/steem/@dantheman/how-to-maximize-curation-rewards
Steemit Whitepaper: https://steemit.com/steem/@liondani/steem-whitepaper-download