Best way to Grow on Steemit

in #steemit3 years ago

My assumption is that you want to grow here on Steemit, and I use grow with more than one meaning:

  • Some of you might want to write their soul out and also read well-written, beautiful and informative articles.
  • A significant number want (or "also want", this is not exclusive) to "make money" while writing or reading good content.

I believe this platform has great potential and I know I want pretty much both, too.


This article is an upgraded follow-up (in English) of an article I've written 3 weeks ago in French, "Communauté d'intérêts sur Steemit". Here is the plan:

  1. Upvoting can bring both "soft" (community building) and financial benefits and offer a compelling benefits / effort ratio.
  2. Despite what people might think, amateurish upvoting doesn't "pay" very well while considerate upvoting is very profitable.
  3. Getting good benefits from upvoting ("curation") requires the cooperation of the author.
  4. I commit to behave like a caring author who not only produces good content but also strives to reward the people who read and upvote his content.
  5. I explain and invite you to join a win-win "symbiosis" and take advantage of the SBD I'll spend promoting the content I create in order to optimize your gains from curation, grow the "good content" community on Steemit as well as your Steem Power.

image "burrowed" from @lishu, follow him!

First thesis

There are a lot of articles about how to make money on Steemit by posting. I pretty much enjoy reading for instance @yallapapi, who is brutal and irreverent. However there are several things that I disagree with in his arguments:

  • One has to do with an explicit focus on "getting on the Trending page". I think that is not sustainable (but I might be naive). Basically if everybody learns how to abuse the system in order to get on the Trending page with shitty posts, all this will accomplish is ... devalue the Trending page itself and make it worthless. People with significant SP will stop checking it up (if they haven't done so already). The whole effort would have been worthless, because the most one will be able to achieve is to capture $0.00 upvotes from Plankton.
  • Another one is somewhat subtler: a significant part of the value of Steemit is the community, I am convinced of that. If everybody focuses on posting and maximizing author rewards it turns the whole discourse from conversations to parallel monologues; it gradually empties the place of its soul and makes it wither (and possibly even turn into yet another Fb/Instagram/etc.).

My first thesis is that curating - i.e. upvoting good posts has a better "growth / effort" ratio than authoring posts.

Of course one can earn more, in absolute terms, by authoring ("root") posts (not comments). If you can write, if you spend a fair amount of effort in the process and if the posts get voted by a whale (quite a bunch of ifs).

But when used well, there is also significant value in upvoting good content for the rewards. And, while warmly recommended, reading ability is in this case not even mandatory. And the effort required is practically nil!

Thus my first thesis is that there's not only "community building" but also reasonable money (with respect to the effort required) to be made by upvoting as I explain below

Second thesis

Most Steemians are by now aware that the steem blockchain produces STEEM which goes into a "reward pool". By upvoting, we all help distribute 75% of the content of that pool (another 15% go to those holding VESTS, and 10% to witnesses who produce blocks).

When a post "pays" (after 7 days), 75% of the sum accumulated thanks to voting goes to the author and 25% (in theory) to those who have upvoted (to reward them for having signaled to the community the value of the post).

This is at least grosso modo the theory. For those who have bothered to research further, the devil is in the details.


In this article, @themarkymark, a steem witness and author of a pretty successful bot pulls the curtain on the actual curation rewards. In reality, curators very often get much less than 25% of a post's rewards.

Actually, what you should understand (read the post linked above if you must) is that getting a lot less than 25% when being among the upvoters is the default behaviour.

Why that is so has to do with the specific rules implemented in the steem engine and are better explained by Juliàn Gonzalez, alias @jga, a great guy, in this pretty involved article full of square roots.

I explain the "TL;DR" of it in the article in French I referenced earlier. Here is the worst you should expect:

  • If you upvote a post right after it's been published, you get 0 (zero, nada, zilch). Every cent of voting power (VP) you spent voting that article goes to the author.
  • If you upvote more than 30' after a post has been published, you should generally expect to get about 1/8th (one eighth) as "$" (also called STU or "Steem Token Units" sometimes) of the VP you have used. Let's say your upvote awarded $0.40 to the article, you should expect $0.05 for yourself. But since you'll get this as SP, if STEEM trades at, say, $1.6 then you are actually credited with (0.05 / 1.6) = 0.03 SP.
  • If you upvote posts in between their 0 minute and their 30th minute, you get something in-between (linear).

At best, though, you can get A WHOLE LOT more than that! As a "picture is worth a thousand words", have a look at the curation rewards for my previous post "Small Worlds"

click on the picture to see the data in @penguinpablo 's steemblockexplorer

Here you can see that my first voter, @rbm, has probably voted right after publication, has awarded me $0.004 and is going to get ... 0.000 SP (nothing) for his trouble. In contrast, my second voter, @luciancovaci has probably voted after the 30 minute mark, has awarded $0.003 but is going to get ... 0.019 SP for it !

While in absolute that's not a lot, it still is more than 6 times more than the VP he "spent" ! The pattern holds for the third upvoter, @marketstack who awarded $0.025 and gets 0.133 SP for himself (from the reward pool), not bad for a simple upvote. For an even bigger value, the fourth voter in this picture, @cristi, awards $0.112 to me and earns 0.279 SP, four times more than the VP spent (with a STEEM at USD 1.6)

How is that possible? If that is not the default situation (quite the contrary, as @themarkymark makes clear), then what has happened in the specific situation I illustrate above ?

For the moment, note that by default, UNLESS the AUTHOR goes to some length in order to ensure that her/his curators get fairly rewarded, simply upvoting "trending" posts is far from maximizing the return on your upvote. Hence my third thesis.

Third thesis

Upvoting specific authors, that behave in a certain way, maximize the reward of the curators. And as the rewards do not come from the author directly but from the reward pool, this is not a "zero-sum game" but rather a case of "win - win" symbiosis, where the curators help the author and, more unusual, the author helps her/his curators !

Let's begin by illustrating this with a snapshot of the same article but taken BEFORE I, the author, had engaged in the behaviour I'm talking about


In this picture, from which the first vote from @rbm is absent, you can easily note that the votes and the VP awarded to the author are the same for @luciancovaci ($0.003), @marketstack ($0.025) and @cristi ($0.112). Yet at the moment of this snapshot, their expected curation rewards are A LOT smaller!

A good observer might also note that I didn't self-vote my post at publication and only upvoted it one day after publication. Why ?

Because I wanted to let my curators benefit and, as @jga explains in the post I've mentioned above, the curation rewards for a given upvote depend on the INCREASE in the post payout AFTER that upvote.

In other words, if you vote a post when the reward is, say, $0.5 with a VP of, say, $0.04 and at payout time the reward on that post is, say again, $140, you curation reward will be multiplied several times. For the actual formula, it will approach 1/4 * square_root(140) * (square_root(0.54) - square_root(0.5)) = 1/4 * 12 * 0.028 =~ $0.084, more than double the VP employed (rather than the default 1/8th of the VP used to upvote).

Of course the question is: how can the voter foresee that the final payout on the post is going to be so high (something like $140)?

Well, I can only speak about my posts here: those who choose to read and upvote my posts can do so knowing that they will reach high payouts ... because I'll promote them with bots after the first or second day (depending on my available SBD and time to use steembottracker). Hence my fourth thesis ...

Fourth thesis

Have a looked at my previous posts and decide whether you might want to upvote my future posts. If the answer is "yes", then as long as you are voting, let's focus on maximizing your curation reward!

I'll start by showing that I "have form" for quite a while in trying to maximize the curation rewards of my upvoters (at least since I made sense of this rather complex mechanic). Here are some snapshots of my previous posts, look how close my curators come to getting 25% of the post's rewards (and compare that with what you saw in the article by @themarkymark)




(if these images render correctly, you'll see that my posts average 24% of curation rewards, within a whisker of the theoretical maximum of 25%)

In order to achieve this percentage I'm using bots to promote my posts. I try to keep a reasonable relationship between the sum I use for promotion and how important I perceive each one of my posts to be.

Thus I spend more on posts I deem important and less on posts I deem more mundane (or when I lack SBD), but you can see that during the last month I've authored 12 posts for a total reward of $656 or about $54.65 per post on average (despite the fact that only 10 posts were promoted). I plan to gradually increase this sum in the future (at least as long as STEEM stays cheap)

I use bots more than 24 hours after publishing (and sometimes up to 3 days after publication) to let some time to my readers to make an informed decision whether a post is worthy of their vote or not.

I self-vote my posts as late as possible, right before the bots cast their upvote, to leave as much curation rewards to "human curators".

Synthesis and conclusion

If you care for good content on Steemit AND for your Steem Power and curation rewards then this proposal should appeal to you. In order to be sure that you upvote my posts as soon as the first 30 minutes have passed, use an external service such as or With the latter, go to "Fanbase", enter "sorin.cristescu" in the text box and click "follow". Once "@sorin.cristescu" appears underneath in the "You are following" list, do not forget to click "Settings" and modify the "Wait time" to 30'.


As you can see in the picture above, I am "eating my own dogfood" and started (this after-noon) following people I think are adding value to steemit AND are using bots to promote their content, @yallapapi and @friendly-fenix. If I find more such people, I'll add them to the list too (and keep an eye on what they publish anyway). This way I am satisfied that I am not only upvoting (thus promoting) good content, but also optimizing my gains from curation.

Thus, if you appreciate my content, I invite you to "become a fan" of mine on or and ... let's grow together!


This is a very well-assembled article! Nice job. Wish I could resteem! Mind if I refer to it in a video I'll be making on the subject later?

Thank you! Yes, I'm not quite sure why it's not possible to resteem an article that is more than 7 days old but anyway ... I don't mind at all, quite the contrary, I'll very much appreciate you referring to it in your nice videos :-)

I went back and read this again more in depth. You've got some serious analysis into this. I could use some coaching from you....I'd be curious to see if there's anything I could do. Honestly, I curate organically and spontaneously. It's my personality. I try to vote consistently every day. And I like this method. I get to pick who I reward. I know there is the benefit of voting for the reward myself, but my primary goal is to vote what I like for the purpose of promoting. And I will stick with that, as it is my thing. However, I would like to preserve some of my voting for earning on them as well. I already know this is done after the 30 min. mark, and have known since they changed it. But...I'd be more interested in the vote bots you use and how you use them.

You're kind of a hidden gem on here. I might wanna do a collab with you in the future. I'll have to think about how though, since our stuff is so vastly different. But that's why I wanna do one. Let me know if you'd be interested in coming up with something.

Thank you! The voting bots, as they are implemented now, are pretty straightforward to use. There is some kind of commonly accepted "value per post" (V/P). If you push a short post too much above that inofficial V/P and land on the trending page you might get in the crosshairs of a angry whale. But if you stay reasonable then the voting bots are more or less paying for themselves. So you are rewarding your readers and gaining notoriety.

I am also quite intrigued by the idea of doing a collaboration precisely because of the complementarity. I'll try to come up with something fun.

Very healthy view, which I totally share and I wrote about in the past.
I wish more people would read it and understand the benefits of curation.
I have also written a similar guide and the feedback I got was that even some of the older posting members found the information new and interesting.
I want to also write a lot more of the Steemit underworks in Romanian, to facilitate our community's growth, and especially those who are not English speakers.

Totally agree with you.

One ideea would be to bring in Romanian users from other places (especially FB) that would otherwise not come because of the language barrier. A practical issue here is the time it takes for steemit to create new accounts.

With respect to this, I read something recently about a tool that lets almost anyone with a bit of "dough" do what blocktrades and anonsteem do, i.e create new accounts (with delegation) for a very small fee, below 2 SBD and 15 SP of delegation.

If someone takes care of organizing this I pledge 20 SBD and 150 SP delegated for 90 days to bring in 10 new romanian users.

Eu am inceput deja sa aduc oameni, am preferat sa aduc oameni care sunt si buni la construit comunitati. Multi nu sunt interesati sau sunt prea timizi pentru a scrie. Se va schimba, cred ca daca suntem tacuti nu avem decat de pierdut.
Daca imi permiti sa-i taguiesc pe @lishu, @rbm si @laurentiu.negrea. Sigur vor vrea sa participe si ei, din cate stiu chiar se ocupa activ de asta.

Am cercetat metodele mentionate de tine:
Taxa minima pentru Blocktrades este 3 SBD per cont (am facut eu astazi)
Taxa prin SteemConnect este de 0.5 + 15 Steem (delegarea vine de la tine nu de la ei dupa cum vad)
Taxa prin cli_wallet nu am putut-o determina, am Windows si desi exista un build de Windows nu prea merge (este din 2017 buildul). Ar trebui cineva sa incerce pe linux sau sa facem un build si sa fixam problemele. Am sa vorbesc cu @anarcho-andrei, poate are el deja cli_wallet configurat.
Revin cu info!

Am revenit:
Am gasit prin @fishmon alternativa la cli_wallet prin Vessel de la jesta:

Taxa 0.2 si delegare de 14. Ma gandesc la o varianta de implementare si ii pun pin pe grupul de Discord. Eventual o adaugi in articol. Iar @rbm care are deja o schita de website pentru steemromania ar putea sa faca un formular php prin care un user sa ceara catre noi un cont. Pot face eu formularul php la o adica. Ca sa nu obligam oamenii sa intre pe Discord, desi ar fi bine sa intre ca ar avea acces la mai multe unelte.

Site-ul este up. Din pacate nu are conținut pe moment. Va trebui să ne ocupăm și de asta.

Chiar si fara continut, putem face formularul si punem linkul catre el in raportul de curare sau in raportul saptamanal.

Sigur ca da. O să pun elementele de identitate vizuală și mă apuc de formular.

Thanks for sharing this valuable information with us all @sorin.cristescu!

I am just recently trying to approach curation for profit and not just use the upvote as a "like" button, so this was a very useful lesson.

There are still somethings that I need to understand better, about curation and author rewards...

I am going to ask you @sorin.cristescu because you seam very knowledgeable about these things;

For instance one thing I find very strange is that the reward amount under posts are always sinking/shrinking, I have been told it has to do with the SBD going down in value, but now (yesterday) the SBD doubled in value, but the reward under my post are still at the same low level...?

Have I misunderstood something?
It feels kind of weird...

Anyway thanks for dropping my name in the post, I must say both you and @yallapapi are true inspirational forces around here, I only started to experiment with bots, so we will see what happens, but I am hoping that I will be able to grow on this platform, and if I could make a few extra SBDs a week I would be very happy. And if STEEM goes to the moon I think we all would be very happy! 😁😁😁😁

Cheers! And again thanks for the post!

I only have a fuzzy understanding of the pricing issues. What I believe I know goes like that: in order for Steemit to display a reward value, it needs to take the price of Steem and SBD from ... somewhere.

One can easily understand that it cannot be an external source, the steem ecosystem needs to be decentralized and autonomous, it cannot rely on Bloomberg, Reuters or Coinmarketcap to get STEEM and SBD price information.

Therefore this is a task required of the witnesses. I don't quite get in detail how this works (it's in the whitepaper but I can't make sense of it) but they publish a "price feed" which is 3.5 days forward-looking (to prevent price manipulation. If you look at this snapshot of the first 7 witnesses you can see that they indicate a ratio going from 1.83 SBD per steem to 1.988 SBD per steem.

Somehow an average of all these price feeds is used by the blockchain engine to generate SBD for the reward pool (where a variable mix of SBD and steem are poured). I would venture that one has to look at the code to see precisely how this works.

The rewards on your posts vary with this price feed average. The "$" is supposed to represent SBD but in reality it doesn't, it's a mix of steem and SBD taken from the reward pool (for 50%) and vests (labelled "steem power" for the other 50%)

Thanks for taking the time to answer @sorin.cristescu...
That whole thing seams slightly "fishy" to me...
You suggested "bot-voting" later not directly after posting a post?

I "suggested" ?

Depends on anyone's objective. A guy like @brandonscalera for instance would prepare his post and his transfers by looking at steembottracker and as soon as his post was published on the blockchain he would send SBD to the bots that accept to vote on very young posts (less than 30'). This way, he minimizes the curation gains of the bots and maximizes his own earnings as author. Fair enough (who cares about the bots curation gains anyway). By doing so he's just neutral toward those who read and upvote his posts either. They are going to get 1/8th of their VP as "$" (which is then divided by the price of steem to give SP)

What I'm doing is making a pledge (rather than "suggesting"). I'm saying: if you upvote me, you'll gain more from curation than with other people because I'll let some time pass (thus giving you time to read and assess whether the post is worth of your upvote) before using bots.

In other words, I'm not going to look at maximizing my financial author gains but rather balance them toward intangible "community" gains.

Whether that's a good thing to do or not, it's my choice and everyone is free to make his own opinion, I'm not pretending to be right :-)

Those who would have upvoted before the bots could get up to 3 times their VP as SP. Even those voting after the bots would still get the usual 1/8 of the VP used, as with every other upvote (nothing special here) ...

There's nothing fishy, IMO. The guys from Steemit thought of an algorithm that aimed (probably) to minimize abuse. @jga analyzed that algorithm and pointed out a way for curators and authors to cooperate for better results ...

Wow, thanks @sorin.cristescu for the long answer, maybe "suggested" was the wrong word. (Sorry).

I guess I just liked your approach it is nice, (for us humans who want to curate your posts).

I have been stressed about making all transfers to various bots as soon as I post the post,
under the belief that getting a few strong upvotes fast would push me into hot or trending.

But now that I have seen the reward amount slowly decreasing day by day, I am making the connection to "the unwritten rule of not up-voting posts that are older then 3,5 days"... Maybe it is better to just wait and then "release the bots" on day 2 or 3?

Let the humans get their curation and also prevent "algorithm decay" of the reward from the bid-bots?

Fair question. Algorithm decay has to do with the constant erosion of the price of Steem lately. If it starts growing again, rewards should be growing as well.

Philosophically speaking, I prefer a collective approach - building a community and growing together than the free-for-all, "I'm looking to maximize my own rewards and I assume everybody else is doing the same" taken by people coming from the Ayn Rand and Austrian school (lots of people coming from that part of the beliefs spectrum on Steemit).

I don't say their approach is worse and mine is better. The French have a saying "il faut de tout pour faire un monde". I think it's healthy that there are people with different approaches around here.

Yeah, I hope the "post reward decay" is correlated to the ups and downs of steem/steem dollars,
(not only the downs)...

I also like the fact that this place has people with all sorts of different approaches to life and money, but I like your effort to collaborate with the collective, it is inspiring. I think it can be win-win to cooperate, I guess that is what @yallapapi would call "circle jerking" ha ha. =)

People can say a lot of stuff about Ayn Rand and her extreme selfishness, but she has the most crazy eyes I have ever seen, almost sexy in a creepy way, she looks so fanatical... I love her eyes... Ha ha...

Never watched her speaking. 3 minutes into the interview one can already see that her philosophy, certainly useful when formulated in the 50-ies, has been made obsolete by the progress of human understanding.

Faith and emotions are integral and, I should say, quite central to the human condition. By now, after so many centuries, I'm pretty confident they have been baked into our genes. Exploring how far pure reason and objectivism can lead us was certainly a worthy undertaking, half a century ago.

I'm certain it is about time we regain some balance and start integrating both reason and emotion into our assessment of what it is and what it should mean to be human.

As @sorin.cristescu pointed, the amount that you see under the post is calculated with the median price of the last 3.5 days (see the price on clicking at the corner)... if today the prices go up you have to wait some days to see it in the posts.

The witnesses define the price. The blockchain takes all of them and uses the median.
And how do witnesses calculate prices? they take them from exchanges (bitrex, poloniex, coinmarketcap, etc). Each one is free to set the price he deems correct.

Cool @jga now I understand the whole thing a bit better, "median price"... Makes sense... Sorry to @steemit if I was a bit negative, just felt like the "median price" was more responsive to the dips... But it was probably just me...

Anyway this whole "witness thing", who should I vote for the get the most "correct everything"?

I don't know, but I think all of them put correct prices (with some differences), then no worries at the moment IMO. When I vote for a witness I see other characteristics like the work they do and the communities they support. Regards.

Thanks for your reply @jga!
I am guessing a person with a deeper technical understanding of the STEEM blockchain and a strong will to improve the Steemit-platform for all users, would be a good witness to vote for?

Exactly, yes!

Excelent articolul. Și foarte bine documentat. Citisem și eu o parte din articolele la care faci referire. Din pacate nu am aprofundat. Sunt prea prins cu partea de comunitate. O sa țin cont de sfaturile care derivă din articol.

Votul meu vine dupa 18 minute de la afisarea postului tău.
Eu știu ca în primele 15 minute totul merge la autor, după 15 minute începe "Curation Rewards". Am citit aici ( vezi sursa )

Very good analysis on curation rewards and a symbiotic relationship between authors and curators to the benefit of both.

Somehow I couldn't make "Next Vote" to work, it's hanging at "Loading...". I also don't self-upvote my posts at least for a few hours, leaving time to potential curators to upvote before that. But haven't thought of bid bots as a way to boost curation rewards until now. May be an interesting use case and a way to attract more curators.

Yes, neither do I lately. Might be that Juliàn has stopped maintaining it. I found it was pretty fun to use when it worked.

For sure I will follow your thesis! Did not know a lot of informations....🤔

That's some very useful tips for beginners :D thanks for sharing :)

And not only for beginners - the whole mechanics of Steemit is pretty involved. By the time you've learned how it works chances are there's been a new fork and some things have changed ! :-D

As well as the post in French ;)

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Check out the "before" :

and "after" 90SBD of bot voting. Note that @jga implictely endorsed the post by upvoting it :)
@rbm and @iuliana.lux have upvoted before the post was 30' old