This article is to clear up some wrong expectations set by a number of guides
Note: If you're not sure what a witness is, check out this article: Seriously, what is a witness? why should I care? how do I become one?
So you want to be a witness? You've been shown the insane amount of money made by top witnesses (a top 20 earns a whopping $400/day at current STEEM prices), and you want in on the gold rush?
It's not that easy.
First, let's clear up some common misconceptions:
Myth #1 - You can become a witness just by running a server
There's more to witnessing than just running a server. Some people like @svk have fallen out of the top 20 witness list, despite a functional witness. It's believed this is due to a lack of participation in the community, which is a core part of being a witness.
Myth #2 - A witness will make me rich in 1 month
There have been a few "shooting stars" such as @charlieshrem who broke into the top 20 within a day of setting up their witness, but there are VERY FEW people who can do this. Unless you're a crypto celebrity, expect it to take a few months to break into the top 50, and many many more months to go higher than that.
Don't be put off by this though, @neoxian, at just rank 55 makes 13 blocks per day. At 0.8 SP per block, that's 10 STEEM per day, which is $14/day or $434/mo. This proves that you can easily break even, and even make a good profit outside of the top 50.
@someguy123 started a witness in August 2016, it took until November 2016 to break into the top 50 with a lot of participation, and became a top 20 witness in July 2017. That's 3 months to break into the top 50, and another 9 months to break into the top 20, with persistent development in the STEEM community, and semi-regular articles.
Myth #3 - Running a witness is "fire and forget"
The STEEM software is inherently buggy. You should expect it to break every now and then, and have to get up at 4 AM to see why you're missing blocks. As you get higher in the ranks, you may even need to buy a second witness server to set up a back-up witness server, so you're not having to babysit it.
Combined with the fact you need to monitor the economy changes (sit around in the witness channel on STEEMIT.CHAT where this is discussed), to have a sane APR, account creation fee, and price feed bias. Not to mention Hard Forks which happen every few weeks, and are mandatory updates.
Witnesses are not paid based on their hardware, unlike Bitcoin or other coin mining, rather they're paid based on votes.
This means you need to have an active effort in order to be voted.
- Explain in your Witness post why you should be voted for. What do you bring to STEEM?
- Make a witness update post, and post in the
witness-updatetag once a week. Keeping your followers updated helps to retain your votes, as well as get new votes if your post makes it into
- Participate in the
#witnesschannel on STEEMIT.CHAT. Important discussions happen here, including hard forks, as well as talks regarding the economy, and what witnesses can do to help. (for example price feed biases, APR changes, account creation fee)
- Ask people to vote for your witness in the footer of any post you make. You may want to link them to a guide on why it's important to vote, and include a screenshot of your name from the voting page.
If you don't stay active, you will struggle to get votes, and may not even pay for your server cost.
At the current point of time, a STEEM witness or seed uses the following (assuming shared-memory-file is kept in RAM):
- 8GB of RAM (used, so 16gb is recommended)
- 30GB of disk space and growing each day
- A consistent 500-1000 kilobytes per second (about 4mbit/s), and needs a stable low latency connection (home internet will not suffice, due to constant maintenance, and router reboots)
- Linux (STEEM does not run on windows, and OSX isn't common on servers)
At Privex, we have a 16GB RAM VPS for just $50/mo, which works great for witnesses, as well as 32GB Dedicated server for just $70/mo. The best part? You can pay for your server with STEEM. Since you'll be paid in STEEM Power for your witness activities, it's so much easier when you can pay your server bill without having to take it out of an exchange.
Some people are not aware of seed nodes. While witnesses act similar to miners on Bitcoin, they produce blocks and get paid; seeds act more like a Bitcoin full-node, they hold and distribute blocks across the network, allowing for fast synchronisation, and transaction propagation.
A seed requires similar hardware requirements to a STEEM witness node (we recommend 16gb RAM)
Why should I run a seed if I don't get paid? - Running a seed helps the network. By running a seed, you show a deeper commitment to STEEM, some people such as @gtg only vote people with active seed nodes.
Witnesses are required to run a price feed. Some people believe that low ranking witnesses don't need to run a price feed, however an outdated feed is a sign of inactivity and can lose you votes, or prevent new ones.
A feed script lets the network know, what price is STEEM to USD? This is important, as it controls the $ amount of post rewards, as well as the internal 3 day exchange rate used by the "Convert to STEEM" function in your Steemit wallet.
How do I know how many blocks I'm getting?
You can use SteemDB by clicking your name in the list (or searching), then going to Witness>Blocks. The image above shows @jerrybanfield's gradual progression up the witness list, slowly getting more and more blocks per day.
You can also use @bitcoiner's tool, which shows the block schedule for the top 200 witnesses: https://bitcoiner.me/schedule/?c=show200,includetop20
Running a witness is harder than some guides make it out to be. If you want to be a successful witness, the #1 important tip, is PARTICIPATE. Make posts, stay active on STEEMIT.CHAT, help out the community where you can.