7 Days to $0: Those Worthless Old Steemit Posts
A friend of mine is thinking about releasing his book chapter by chapter on Steemit. At first, I thought it a great idea, but recently I had second thoughts when I realized that upvotes after 7 days = $0 to authors, meaning there is no passive residual income. The side effect of this is that Steemit encourages authors to post frequent content over content of long-lasting value. Plus my friend would lose (a little) control once his book is locked on the Steem blockchain forever.
This post considers the risks and rewards of posting long-lasting content from the standpoint of residual income.
And to anticipate a couple objections from the outset:
- Yes, older posts have value as they continue to benefit readers.
- Yes, frequent posts can be high-quality and of long-lasting value.
That said, I'm more concerned with how authors can justify spending two weeks of time researching and writing a high-quality post that will still have considerable value five years later -- when that post earns them $0 after 7 days.
Please hit me up in the comments, tell me where I'm wrong, or just generally help expand my understanding.
How Authors Monetize Posts
Before turning attention to Steemit, it's worth considering how authors make money without it. Here are a few common ways people make money online with their content. They can also combine these approaches into broader strategies.
- Advertisements: While most of us hate online ads, for content producers they provide a continual source of possible income. If viewers see the content a year later, a little bit of ad-revenue comes the author's way. Then there is YouTube, where well-produced video could see a spike in views and revenue a year later if the topic is suddenly trendy.
- Sponsorships: A sponsor pays for permanent or semi-permanent placement on the post. This is popular with podcasts and could apply to written posts. Podcasters typically do not want to go back and edit older episodes to replace the sponsor.
- Affiliate Links: The author recommends a product or service to the reader using a link and receives a small commission (at no cost to the reader). When done respectfully, this is great way for readers to support authors. (On the flip side, the author loses the reader's trust when indiscriminately linking to crap, or shilling). A great example = British Man Earns $700/Month Writing Fish Tank Reviews.
- Patronage: Asking the reader directly for money. This can come in the form of a Patreon subscription, crowd funding, posting a Bitcoin address, PayPal (ugh)...
- Branding: Authors can also expand their brand by using the posts to guide people to other products or services they provide: t-shirts, e-books, online courses, consulting...
Where Steemit Fails
Steemit fails an author looking for a long-term monetization strategy in a number of ways:
- $0 After 7 Days: Already covered. But consider this: Today your a minnow, tomorrow you're not. All those gems you posted last year -- photos, poems, essays -- are still generating views and upvotes. In the past, this post was valued at $0.01. Today, you're receiving a steady trickle of upvotes. At this point, you've basically donated your body of work to Steemit, Inc for content that draws an audience and keeps an audience.
- Cannot Edit Posts After 7 Days: While this has many benefits from a blockchain perspective, there are significant drawbacks for an author to consider. Let's say you...
- Created a killer list of resources for people starting website. The SEO rankings are fantastic and people are able to find you. However, a year later some of the links no longer work or better options emerged. Ideally, you'd just go into that page and update the content and retain all hard-earned SEO ranking. Can't do this on Steemit.
- Stumbled into creating a popular series of posts with links to products (e.g. on Amazon) you've used an believe in. Can't retroactively update those post links.
- Created a few posts with long shelf lives. Can't retroactively add other ways for readers to support you: advertisements (probably a good think), affiliate links, patronage, and branding.
- Cannot Resteem Posts After 7 Days: @doodlebear pointed this out in the comments (I didn't know this). Resteeming is like retweeting -- basically sharing a post with your followers. When the post cannot be shared, the post essentially gets buried and it's hard for anyone to discover it. This points again to an extreme bias on Steemit toward frequency and recency.
Making Steemit Work
When considering monetizing content that has long-term value, Steemit primarily works when it is a supplemental strategy, not the primary strategy. And even when used as a supplemental strategy, some care is needed to make Steemit work. Mostly this comes with careful planning that leverages the short-term incentives Steemit favors alongside other long-term residual incomes that keep the posts value alive...
- Create Your Own Website/Blog: Optimize it for residual income strategies and direct readers to it with links in your Steemit posts.
- Set Up Income Strategies in Advance: Patreon account, affiliate programs... And link to them in your Steemit posts (preferably in a way that doesn't become a bloated list of links at the bottom of every post).
- Cultivating Steemit Presence: Building your reputation in advance of your launch. This happens basically by participating in the network: commenting, upvoting, posting. There are tons of posts on this subject to look up. I'm no expert here.
- Maximize Steemit Payout: Essentially, posts (or series of posts) become a campaign, possibly with advertising budgets. This includes bid bots, curation guilds, possibly currying upvotes from whales in advance... Again, there are a lot of posts out their explaining his.
This supplemental approach is currently popular for a YouTuber, who's Steemit posts include both YouTube and dTube links. They get an initial flush of income from Steemit/dTube, but receive that and more on YouTube with residual income a year later when the SALT token takes off and people discover the video explaining what SALT is.
For older work you have laying around, you can use Steemit to recycling platform. Simply cash-in on older work that's no longer generating any income, but might have a second life and audience on Steemit. Combined with the strategies from above, you just might be able to re-boot the project.
Can Steemit Change?
Of course it can. What I'm less clear on is why thre is a 7-day limit on upvotes that pay out. I did a little research on the topic and the best I came up with is this GitHub discussion:
(mvandeberg) ... The 7 day payout was chosen because 99%+ of votes on content happen in the first 7 days. There are a couple percentage points that happen between day 6 and 7. I don't want to cut into that time too much. This lockout time should be the minimal amount of time needed to moderate pending payouts. We had intended this to be just long enough for bots to moderate and then have the comment get paid.
I believe this is something Steemit should change. I'm guessing there is some complexity involved in keeping posts active forever -- any post could be eligible for trending if there is a big surge in valuable upvotes and comments on an old post. It also means a lower level to keep track of upvotes to pay out.
Nothing worth doing is easy.
I'll propose my alternatives in a future post...