Hello there, and welcome to Steemit! It's nice to see you joining us here, but this place can be pretty overwhelming to a new minnow. Yes, 'minnow'. I don't know why, but people around here refer to users by varying degrees of fish-ness. New accounts are "minnows", more established accounts are "dolphins", and the big beefcakes with tens of thousands of Steem Power are "whales". I've no idea where these terms came from, but that's neither here nor there -- if you're new to Steemit, you're a minnow...and that's OK!
Just like this little guy right here.
Minnows comprise the bulk of the accounts here. I don't know where the cut-off point is, but I think you graduate from your minnow-hood when you hit around 500 Steem Power and unlock the slider for the upvote button. Then again, I might be completely wrong. I'm still learning the ropes myself, but after a year of putting out steady content and accumulating nearly 1,500 Steem Power through sheer bull-headed relentless posting (and without investing a single dollar of my own money), I've learned a little bit. That's what I'd like to share with you today.
Keep in mind these are only suggestions. They may not work for you, but they've done right by me so far and I'm inclined to spread the wealth. But enough with the jibber-jabber -- let's talk tips.
1) A Proper Introduction Is Everything
As a minnow, you will be following no one and have no followers. Getting followers is the key to getting upvotes on your posts, but how do you let people know who you are and get moving on the platform? With an introduction, of course!
Steemit uses a tag system for post classification, and you can use up to five of them per post. When you join up, the most important tag you'll ever use is #introduceyourself. A proper introductory post does two important things: it gets you followers, and it provides your first "payment". Introductory posts typically do well, as the community likes to encourage new members to stick around and keep building their Steem Power. Your introductory post should talk about who you are, and what you plan on doing with yourself here on the platform (poetry, life blogging, photography, fart videos, whatever). Whatever you do, make sure you put your own personal spin on things.
Need a sample or a template for writing your own? Here: feel free to read the one I wrote and modify it for your own needs. Make your introduction about you -- not just who you are, but why people should follow you in addition to one of the other 100 minnows who did an introductory post that day.
Steemit is an investment. It's a long-haul game. The better your initial contribution, the more chances you have to grow.
2) Comments Are Your Best Opportunity to Start
After an introductory post, the best way you have to get new followers is to browse around, look at tags for things you enjoy, and leave good comments that show you read and understand the post. The key here is good. Anybody can do mediocre, and you'll see proof of that in the minnows that dogpile on your early posts with simple crap like, "Good post!", or "I agree!", or "I upvoted and followed please upvote and follow me back." Ignore these plankton and vow never to become like them. They are the bottom feeders of the Steemit pond, unworthy of the reward that is your respect.
Find posts on topics that you like and engage with them. In the early stages of your minnowhood, work to minimize conflict. If you have strongly-held views on hot-button topics, keep them to yourself in the beginning. The opposite of the upvote here is the flag, and when you're a minnow, all it takes is raising the ire of one dolphin to completely wreck your carefully-crafted reputation. Trolls don't thrive in an ecosystem where they are easily crushed, and as a new minnow, your reputation (that little number in parentheses beside your user name) can be obliterated down to a point where your posts are automatically hidden by the system in a matter of seconds. View reputation like armor: the more of it you have, the more resistant to flags you become (only a flag from a member with reputation higher than you can affect your own reputation).
The other reason comments are important is that well-written and engaging comments will earn you followers, especially if it's clear you know what you're talking about. Followers translate into more earning potential and you'll need it, because at the start your own upvotes are worth zero. You're entirely dependent on the generosity of others to grow in this lake. Fortunately the majority of users here are generous to a fault. Don't beg, don't whine, just engage. You'll reap the rewards for years.
3) Get Set Up With Minnowsmith
@minnowsmith is a new service here on Steemit that pays you in SBD (Steem Backed Dollars) for letting it use your computing cycles right from your browser window. Here's how to get started earning some free money from day one. First, visit @minnowsmith here on Steemit and give them a follow. This is important, as followers gain a 5% bonus to
their payouts. In addition, every day @minnowsmith posts the payout results. People who upvote the payout post earn an added 5% bonus to their next payout cycle, so following them ensures you'll see that post in your feed every day. Hit it with an upvote, and you'll be ready for the next day's bonus!
Access their site at http://minnowsmith.party, disable your ad blocking software, input your user name, and click start. The rest is automatic. Every 24 hours, you'll receive a payment from @minnowsmith for the work you did mining in your browser. Additionally, every day the @minnowsmith account picks eight posts at random from the people who are mining and following and gives them a 100% upvote. It's a lottery with no cost to enter, so you might as well go for it!
Minnowsmith is a slow investment strategy. You won't get rich quick off of it, but you can use the SBD it generates to buy more Steem on the Marketplace. Your immediate goal should be to earn 1 full liquid Steem, because that's going to power your next investment in yourself...
4) Steem Basic Income (SBI)
The SBI initiative is an attempt to provide every participating Steemian with a basic income on every post they make. You can read all about it at @steembasicincome's page (which you should also follow, for reasons I'll get into in a couple of paragraphs), but as soon as you have your first Steem, you'll want to invest it into the SBI program so you can start earning returns. The kicker is, you can't enroll yourself into SBI, you have to sponsor someone else. In doing so, both you and that person earn a single share in the program.
To enroll someone into SBI, go to your wallet and transfer 1 Steem (they don't take SBD, which is why you're going to turn the SBD you earn from your posts and your Minnowsmith mining and turn it into Steem) to @steembasicincome. In the memo field, put the account name of the person you want to sponsor along with the @ symbol (so if you wanted to sponsor me, for instance, you'd write @modernzorker in there).
Enrollment is not automatic, so it can take 3-4 days to process. Once your enrollment is complete, you'll get a message in your wallet from @steembasicincome welcoming you to the program. From here, everything else goes like clockwork: each post you make will earn a guaranteed upvote from the SBI program. With 1 share, it's not a very large upvote, but you're going to increase that without spending anything else until you want to.
Remember when I told you to follow @steembasicincome? That's because upvoting their posts (not posts the account resteems, just posts made by @steembasicincome) earns you bonus shares in the program. As you grow your account, you may choose to sponsor more people and thus buy more shares, but after that initial 1 Steem investment, you can grow your results with nothing more than a single upvote every 3-4 days. Beyond that, they also post information on contests other Steemians are running where shares of SBI are the prizes. Entering these is a great way to add a little more exposure for yourself, and of course, the benefits of winning speak for themselves!
5) A Regular Posting Schedule Works Wonders
When you first start out here, there's very little by which other Steemians can judge you. You want to change that as soon as possible, and the best way is to show that you're taking this Steem thing seriously. In addition to your thoughtful and intelligent comments you're going to leave on other peoples' posts, you want to generate good quality content of your own. You don't have to overdo it -- if you can write something every day, then that's awesome (especially after your SBI registration is processed). If you can't, at least try to commit yourself to 3 - 5 posts per week. Feel free to vary your topics too! Very few people are into just one thing, and the wider you cast your net, the more followers you're likely to ensnare.
For instance, I write about a lot of geek-type stuff: comic books, video games, Star Wars, laserdiscs, and book reviews with an emphasis on horror, just to name a few. Each one of those is a different audience, and a chance to appeal to a wider group. I have followers who upvote everything I write about books, but ignore everything having to do with video games -- it's the same way with every category. Don't feel like you have to be a one-trick pony. The people who like your stuff about Topic A will reward you for it, just as the people who don't care about A but love B will do the same.
But the most important reason for producing daily posts isn't their earning potential, but their retention potential. Statistics have shown that roughly 50% of all new accounts on Steemit cease activity within the first 30 days. After 90 days, that number jumps even further (to around 70% if I recall correctly). Most dolphins and whales (the larger accounts) know this, and some might be hesitant to follow a new account for fear of wasting upvotes on someone who won't stick around to benefit from it long-term. By maintaining a regular posting schedule, you not only condition yourself to work on new content, you also condition your followers to expect those posts and reward you for them.
If you're going to be away from your computer for a while, it's best to post a message letting your followers know. You don't have to get into the gory details, but informing people that you won't be posting because you'll be out of town for a bit is always nice. Of course you can always live-stream your hemorrhoid surgery or mother-in-law's funeral for the Steemit crowd too...somebody somewhere would likely upvote you for the size of your cojones if nothing else, but I don't recommend it.
Remember: Steemit isn't a get rich quick scheme, it's a slow-burning investment strategy where the more you put in, the more you'll get out in return. When people see you devoting time to creating good quality posts and leaving quality comments, they'll be more apt to snap. Bait that hook and catch those followers!
6) Set Goals, Then Set New Ones As You Meet Them
After your SBI enrollment, your goal should be to acquire 500 Steem Power. At that point (or just a bit before it), you'll unlock the upvote slider, which lets you assign a different percentage than 100% to your upvotes. This greatly expands your ability to interact with the community, since you can vote comments differently from full posts, and spread your influence more widely.
Prior to reaching 500 Steem Power, don't be afraid to limit the number of people you follow. You can't upvote everything, and in the beginning of your Minnowhood, even a 100% upvote won't be worth a cent, so you'll want to spend it wisely. Limiting your list of followed users is a way of keeping you on point. In any case, because of the way vote power is calculated, you'll want to avoid handing out more than ten 100% upvotes in any given 24-hour period. This is because you recover voting power slowly (around 20% per day). Each 100% upvote you cast costs you roughly 2% of your voting power. 2% x 10 upvotes = 20%, or the max you can recover over a one-day period.
An easy way of keeping track of your voting power is to use Steem World. It's a free to use site accessed directly from your browser, and open to anyone. To see my stats, for example, you'd type https://steemworld.org/@modernzorker and after a few seconds of load time, you'll see something like this:
Source: My screenshot.
To see your account, just replace '@modernzorker' with your username here. Bookmark that site, as it'll be one of the most helpful tools in your Steemit arsenal as you grow your account. Using it, you can see your current voting power, when you'll hit 100%, how many people voted on your posts and the value of those votes, the people who commented on your items, and much, much more. You don't need to know all of this as a minnow, but it's good to know it's there for when you do start referring to it (which will be frequently once you hit 500 Steem Power and unlock the upvote slider).
Don't beat yourself up if you don't meet a particular milestone. The fickle nature of the crypto market can have a massive impact on your goals. It's always good to have something to work towards though. Make them small steps (another 100 Steem Power by the end of the year, five more shares of SBI by the end of next month, 20 posts for the month of October, whatever), and use the dopamine hit each time you reach one goal to propel you towards the next.
7) Ignore the Spammers and Bid Bots
This may seem like common sense, but just like you wouldn't respond to an obvious spam email, there's no need to reply to obvious spam comments. Don't upvote them, don't flag them, just leave them alone. They're a part of the ecosystem, and other larger fish will put the hurt on them if they continue their nefarious ways.
After you've posted for a bit, or maybe even after your first article, checking your wallet may reveal messages from people offering various services here on Steemit in exchange for Steem or SBD. They may promise to resteem your post to an account with thousands of followers, guarantee a certain number of upvotes in exchange, or other such deals. Here on Steemit, as in real life, if it sounds too good to be true, it often is.
Those thousands of followers? Very few of them have any human eyes behind them. Sure it looks impressive for someone to have 10,000 followers, but take a few seconds to investigate and you'll see the truth. Take a look at the final post payout rewards and upvote totals for the posts the account resteems in exchange for your hard-earned money, and you'll see they don't make much in return. The good news? The spammers are actually paying you. Sending messages here on Steemit costs something, and even if it's only .001 SBD, that's still money you can use in conjunction with your MinnowSmith mining and SBI shares to build yourself up piece by piece. Take that fraction of a cent and don't look back.
By the same token, you can find services like @booster or @randowhale that offer the chance of a random upvote in exchange for money. If you've got money you can afford to lose, then by all means, feel free to gamble. Just remember, the house always wins in the end. You're far better served in the long run buying two more shares of SBI than you would be sending 2 Steem to these bid bot services.
The sole exception to this rule is @minnowbooster, which is a service set up specifically to aid minnows with a return on their investment almost guaranteed to exceed the expenditure. If you have to use a bid bot service, take a look at @minnowbooster. The rest are just playing roulette with your SBD where they're guaranteed to win even if the upvote you get is worth more than what you paid in -- it cost them nothing to cast it, and they still got your money. Don't fall for the lure of the lottery.
8) Plagiarism Will Destroy You, So Don't Do It
Because of Steemit's ability to monetize content, plagiarism (posting other people's content without giving them credit) is a huge problem. To combat this, several different Steemians run bots on the system whose sole purpose is to scan things posted to Steemit for non-attributed similarities to content posted elsewhere on the web. The most well-known and prolific of these bots is @cheetah, and if she catches you being bad, it can put a black mark on your record that costs you followers, income, and reputation.
Make sure when you're posting content that you're posting your own content. Tempting as it may be to use somebody else's essay as your own work, or copying a neat article verbatim from another website, remember that Steemit users reward you for producing content that is your own. You can write about the same topic as someone else, just make sure you put your own spin on it. If you do quote someone else in one of your articles, make sure you source the original. If you use a picture from another site, make sure you attribute where you got it from. Copy-pasting someone else's work might seem like a quick and easy way to earn some free money, but once you get caught, it's all over: your investment in this platform is all but destroyed.
It's OK to reference other people's stuff, just make sure credit is given where credit is due. And always think of ways you can add value to the content instead of just putting it up for others without comment. If you saw a funny video on YouTube, post it here and open it up for discussion in the comments. If it's a magic trick, turn it into a discussion of how it was done. If it was a speed run of a video game, dissect it and break it down using your own commentary to point out where it could be improved, or to showcase an insane stunt or two that blew your mind then explain how it was performed. Think education, not just repetition. The possibilities are endless.
9) It's All In How You Frame It
No matter what you're doing with your Steemit account, whether it's posting pictures of your garden, blogging about the night life in Dubai, or showcasing your talent for lighting your own farts on fire, your mindset will ultimately determine how successful you are here. Don't think, "How can I use this topic to make money?" but rather, "What can I say about this topic that will create value and incentivize others to join the discussion?"
Additionally, show that you care about the work you produce by using spellcheck and grammar check. You don't have to be perfect (I guarantee there's somebody who can crucify me about a comma splice in this very post), but the harder you work to ensure a clean and easy to read product, the more reason you give for people to upvote your content.
The question is not, "How do I earn upvotes?" That's for lesser minds. The question you should be asking is, "What can I produce that will entice others to upvote me?" The winner's mindset is to always keep the other guy in mind. Provide value for that reader, and they will reward you with an upvote. Keep doing this week after week, month after month, investing in yourself instead of bid bots and resteem services, and you'll grow yourself into a guppy before you know it!
Thanks for taking the time to read this post! If you found it helpful (and I sincerely hope you did), treat that upvote button the way Ivan Drago treated Apollo Creed.
For those who don't get the reference, there's the most important five minutes of your life.
If you know a minnow who could benefit, resteem this article. If you have a suggestion I overlooked, add it in the comments below. Let's grow ourselves some new fish and keep this ecosystem going. We're in this for the long haul, so the sooner you start, the sooner you grow. It's that easy...and that difficult.