After launching our Steem witness, where is the logical starting point to get votes? The 10 steps in this guide will highlight a few basics that I hope are useful to get the most votes as witness on Steemit because it seems to me the voting process for being a witness with Steemit is challenging at all levels from keeping the list of 30 current at the top to building relationships during a climb up the middle to getting the very first votes at the bottom of the list. This list is optimized for being a witness that also authors new Steemit posts daily because I believe it is impractical with how competitive witness votes are to expect to get votes without also having an established list of followers upvoting posts.
- Make the largest investment we can in Steem Power because this verifies a commitment at least for a few months in the future of Steem.
- Show the value we hope to bring to Steemit over time by authoring posts, interacting in comments, helping in chat, developing apps, creating video tutorials, and referring friends.
- Ask our friends and the closest followers first for a vote before launching the witness thread. I asked @aarellanes to vote on my witness first because we collaborate on Steemit daily.
- Make the initial Steem witness declaration post to ask for votes directly from followers as seen at https://steemit.com/witness-category/@jerrybanfield/steem-witness-14-542-reporting-for-duty.
- Thank those voting first with replies to comments and double check those saying they upvoted actually did upvote as a witness.
- If no vote yet, ask using persuasive language such as "Would you please vote for me as a witness at https://steemit.com/~witnesses because ..." to make the request clear using a direct communication method such as text message, steemit.chat, or reply to a comment.
- Check our top 50 to 100 upvoters at http://steemvp.com/ to learn who we need to ask to vote our witness up.
- For voters not converted using the first six steps, use the wallet and the memo to transfer the most Steem you feel good about donating as a tip to say thank you for the upvotes combined with a clear request using "Would you please vote for me as a witness at https://steemit.com/~witnesses because ..."
- Continue checking for upvotes every day or two while following up with a second message thanking anyone that does vote with another transfer while digging deeper into top upvoters as new posts bring more upvotes.
- Patience as often it make take people that already love us months to go and vote for witnesses. I read outstanding witness guides created months ago and took weeks to eventually vote the author up as a witness. Gaining votes will go faster when we focus first to convert existing relationships into upvotes rather than spamming everyone for votes or asking people recently met to vote.
Why these 10 steps?
- Invest! I cashed out all my retirement and my Dash masternode to put in everything I could aside from a prudent reserve to pay the bills which was a total of $37,062.41. Since then I have went all in on being an author on Steemit with having invested most everything we have been generous enough to give me back into Steem Power leaving me now today with 43,108.563 Steem Power which seems crazy! I am investing more now that the price has dropped including buying $1,000 more today and planning to buy another $7,500 or more with the price down. When I receive a request to vote for a witness, one of the first areas I check is how much Steem Power that witness has because I also am going to ask for a vote in return. While I am happy to be more liberal in my voting until I reach 30 votes, I am planning to remove votes based first on whether the witness I am voting for is also voting for me and on how much Steem Power the witness I am voting for has. With the responsibilities witnesses have collectively to be of service to the community, I believe a witness should have proof in their own account of their investment in Steem for the long term by having at least 1,000 Steem Power or about 2m vests to be considered for a backup and at least 20,000+ Steem Power or about 40m vests to be a top 20 witness.
- Post! Getting votes is much easier as a witness if we have already been getting votes on our posts because it is logical if a user would upvote our posts that they might upvote us as a witness as well. Asking someone that has never upvoted our posts seems crazy because in dating terms a vote for a witness is kind of like marriage while an upvote on a post is more like a quick hookup. Start with making posts, comments, and upvoting others well in advance of trying to ask for witness votes. I made 30 to 60 Steemit posts and 10 to 20 videos on YouTube about Steemit before becoming a witness and asking for witness votes. If you absolutely are not into writing and posting, some other kind of relationship is necessary to get votes from chatting on steemit.chat to making apps or bringing friends in. Bottom line who are you helping already before you need a favor in the form of a witness vote?
- Ask! As soon as our witness is online, it helps to get in the habit of asking for votes by beginning with those we feel safest to ask such as our closest friends and followers. Asking them before we even launch our thread gives us more proof when those less close to us go to vote because they can see we already have some votes. Upvoting ourselves is also a great idea just to get the initial votes and benefit from our investment in Steem Power. With feeling comfortable and practicing asking our closest friends first, asking everyone else becomes easier.
- Declare! Making the initial declaration to post is a good STARTING POINT for asking for witness votes. If we think we are going to just get votes by doing an intro post, we are likely to be disappointed. I got about 10% of the votes I have now from my initial intro post despite having 605 views on my post and $100+ in rewards from 611 upvotes within the first four days as seen at https://steemit.com/witness-category/@jerrybanfield/steem-witness-14-542-reporting-for-duty. My purpose in my intro post was to clearly communicate the VALUE I have already brought and hope to continue bringing to our community here as well as the STORY of how I became a witness including who inspired me, the servers I have, and both reasons to vote for me and not to vote for me. I realize everyone is not going to want me to be a witness let alone a top witness and therefore I might as well help make it clear right away the reasons to avoid voting for me because that is honest. No witness is perfect and all have limitations. One limitation I notice is a lot of witnesses do not run seed nodes. If you do run a seed node, make sure to share about it.
- Gratitude! What a lot of us do well is wanting and getting what we want. What we often fail to do is be grateful for what we do have. For example, I am extremely grateful for the votes for me as a witness within the first week of getting my witness online and for all the upvotes on my posts. Our community has been so generous that I have found it challenging just to reply to the comments and try to collaborate with you to help each other. If you voted for me as a witness and I have not thanked you yet, will you please do so in the comments here to help me have the chance to show my appreciation for you giving me the chance to serve as a witness because I will try to reply to your comment here? To express gratitude most effectively requires verifying a vote did actually occur because on over half of the comments I saw on my witness declaration saying "I voted for you" over half did not actually place the vote. Double check that the vote was actually placed!
- Convert! If no vote was actually made by a comment or commitment to vote, reply to the comment, chat message, text, or whatever the best communication method is with "Thank you for saying you will vote for me! Would you please complete your vote by visiting https://steemit.com/~witnesses and typing in my account name without the @ sign into the vote or the proxy box because this will cast your vote for me as a witness?" This uses persuasive language by stating clearly what needs to be done and why. Using "Would you" offers us a choice which is much more powerful than "Can you" or "could you" because these more often used phrases tend to be manipulative in forcing us to answer yes because the truth is yes, I "can" vote for you right now but the question is would I like to? Adding "because" into the request has been consistently proven in the research I have read to be effective in answering the "why" question and encouraging action because most of us respect a request that explains the reasoning for it. By comparison, saying "Go vote for me as a witness" is unlikely to convert because it feels like a command while "PLEASE GO VOTE FOR ME AS A WITNESS" feels desperate and without purpose. The "Would ... because" setup leaves room for vulnerability because the request is made from one equal to another with why it is worth doing and leaves the person answering the option to say "No, I will not vote for you as a witness" which is critical when asking for votes. The exact language used in life makes a big difference which is not often obvious when first reading but does become more obvious with results.
- Steemvp.com! After collaborating with the most enthusiastic supporters first, the next indefinite phase is to ensure those already upvoting our posts are also aware of the opportunity to vote us up as a witness. Using http://steemvp.com/ developed by top 2 witness @roelandp makes it easy to see exactly which users are most logical to ask for votes next. Reading through the list sorted by SBD rewards also helps show those with the most voting power and/or enthusiasm in the exact order we need to approach them. After my initial launch, about 95% of the top 60 upvoters had not voted me up as a witness yet. I checked @teamsteem because he voted me up and has an active following that often receives hundreds of dollars per post. About half of his current top 20 upvoters are not voting for him as a witness as of the time of this post. To make sure this really worked for others beside @teamsteem and for me, I checked @someguy123 who has been the single most helpful person for me becoming a witness to see if this was true for him also despite his incredibly active role in the witness community and close proximity to the top 20. I was shocked to find that somewhere between 20% to 30% of his top upvoters are also currently not voting for him as a witness despite several having open space in their votes! For example, @someguy123 earned 4 upvotes from @enki recently for a total of $38 SBD. @enki has 574M VESTS making a very powerful vote for a witness. With this one vote, @someguy123 would close half the gap to position 25 and get a significant percentage more blocks as a backup witness. @enki or a few of the other similar followers @someguy123 has are almost certain to vote for them if he is able to make a good ask maybe using the method below. While it is possible this is because of autovotes from users not checking Steemit often, there are also a lot of open votes just waiting to be converted for most every witness currently including me!
- Transfer! Recently I noticed that one of the ways that worked for readers on Steemit to get my attention was to send me a generous tip to my wallet using transfers. This is possible for each of us by going to our wallet and transferring either SBD or Steem to another account. Several of the posts I upvoted lately were from users sending a few Steem or SBD as a thank you combined with a request to read their post. Initially I was reading anything but since then I have raised the threshold to a minimum of whatever my full vote is worth because sending 0.001 SBD along with a memo is like sending a tenth of a cent. If we finished our meal at a restaurant or saw a performer on the street we loved, would we give them a tenth of a cent and then seriously expect anything except negative feedback? Noticing this habit of mine helped me solve a problem I have been grinding on for a month which is "How do I thank my top upvoters when they do not comment?" Fortunately putting all this together gave me a system to thank those already upvoting posts and simultaneously ask for an upvote using a transfer from my wallet. The hardest part was deciding how much Steem to send because I realize how much I receive on a tip makes a difference as to how I process it. 0.001 SBD and I am ignoring the message. 1 SBD I might smile and think about it. 10 Steem and my eyebrows will go up and I will consider how I can help. 100 Steem and I might drop what I am doing to assist now and later. Once I realized every single upvoter in my top 60 would require at least 10 Steem at a minimum with some meriting 20 and the #1 really needing at least 100 Steem, I bought 1500 Steem to prepare on Bittrex and made the transfer. Then for about an hour I went through and wrote customized thank you messages along with the witness voting request with the URL included allowing for easy copy and pasting. The hardest part was figuring out what to include in because. "Vote for me as a witness because I am possessed by greed and want to be a top 20 witness overnight" felt a little to negative. "Vote for me as a witness because I am the best thing that happened to Steemit" felt a little to overboard as well in the positive. I ended up with "because I voted for you" if I had already voted for that witness or "because of the story I share in my witness thread" because that felt the most simple way to offer the chance to read more while also offering the chance to skip the details and just vote if desired. One witness seeing this in my wallet called for everyone to unvote me because I was "buying votes." I call it thanking my followers for upvoting me with Steem and using the only method of communication I know of to ask for a vote as a witness. You are welcome to think of it however you wish or judge by the results. For my accounting, this is an advertising expense.
- Repeat! When we repeat this process, I believe we will consistently see the best results if followed up with a thank you message because after receiving votes using this exact system I have been trying to do better with thanking those that did vote either with a direct tip in the wallet or an upvote on a comment or promotion in posts or whatever I can do. I suggest an investment in Steem Power to begin because what I like about Steemit is the transparency it offers us as to how much we are helping. If you vote for me at any level and comment here, I will try to at least make a response with a comment. The more your vote is worth, the more I am willing to do to show my gratitude because that is in my best interest in my witness approval as it is for every other witness. After going through the first 60 upvoters, I plan to repeat this process into the hundreds then thousands over the course of the next several months because every witness vote is helping me earn more blocks. With more blocks, I earn more Steem power which makes my vote worth even more.
- Patience! While setting the server up is relatively easy compared to what it takes to get into mining some other cryptocurrencies, getting the votes as a witness appears to be a very challenging process for a new witness because there is almost no incentive for any of the top upvoters to change any of their existing votes outside of a few isolated incidents where perhaps one witness in the top 20 might have a feud with another or where a witness goes offline. Even for offline witnesses, many voting for them still leave the votes on months later just because of not checking it. The fact is that the witness system is hugely biased in favor of first come first served with new witnesses only having a chance to be successful by most completely converting every possible upvoter out of those already interested and being willing to play the long game where attrition kicks in with consistently at least one witness in the top not even bothering to upgrade and giving up $1,000+ a month in rewards because of life getting in the way. While there have been around 14,000 witness accounts created in total, only about 80 to 100 remain at any level of activity with about 60 being active and competitive. There is room for all of these 60 to get blocks but moving up within that sixty seems to require a full time commitment to Steemit plus a significant investment in Steem Power plus consistently authoring posts plus converting every existing upvoter into a witness vote. The top 30 witnesses appear to be doing a great job maintaining our community and it is our duty to support them as newer witnesses by being prepared to step in at a moment's notice to help out.
What is the best opportunity today as a witness?
For those of us not in the top 30 with the majority of the earnings, the best opportunity for the foreseeable future is to be a great backup witness that is prepared to step in during an emergency and handle the top 20 load. For example, if a group of hackers wants to take Steemit down, all they need to do are go after the top twenty witnesses and then allow the backups to fail that are not prepared for the top twenty load. Currently that might meaning disrupting 30 to 50 servers total at once which would probably not be that hard if a group of hackers put the energy into going to work on Steem that they have into taking down services like Xbox live and PSN.
Prepared backup witnesses are key to redundancy in our system because the more backup witnesses we have running servers that are ready to handle a top 20 load at a moment's notice, the more difficult it will be to disrupt the entire blockchain. An attack could last days or even weeks on witnesses if Steemit gets popular and becomes a big target to take down. To be ready, we probably need hundreds of backup witnesses that are capable of handling a block every 63 seconds. Natural disasters or other unforeseen challenges could easily produce this exact same need at a moment's notice which without preparation would not be easy to withstand.
Thank you very much for reading along all the way to the bottom!
Would you please vote for me as a witness at https://steemit.com/~witnesses because this post is an example of my service as a witness?