Imagine you are going on about your normal daily lives like posting a picture of what you ate for lunch on Instagram and bragging about where you’re flying to for your next vacation to your Facebook friends. Now imagine, instead of wasting your time and padding your ego, you get paid for those actions. That’s exactly what Steemit, Inc., is doing with Steemit.com.
To put it bluntly from Steemit, Inc.,’ own words: “Steemit has redefined social media by building a living, breathing, and growing social economy – a community where users are rewarded for sharing their voice. It’s a new kind of attention economy.”
I’ve heard about the Steeemit around December 2017 while doing research about blockchain. I’ve known about cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin for while and didn’t really get into it until skyrocketed to $20,000 per Bitcoin around the same time. I was also looking for new ways to gain more audience to my Photography and Travel Blog so I joined.
After six months of Travel Blogging on the platform, I’ve learned a lot. I’ve had many highs and many lows. Here, I will share with you non-biased and honest review of the social media platform with the hopes that you judge for yourself if it’s worth your time.
What is Steemit?
Think of Steemit a Social Blogging Platform like Reddit and Medium where you can post articles and users vote on the content you posted. However, unlike Reddit, Steemit rewards your content with Money. Users (Steemit members) can upvote (or downvote) your posts and based on the power of their votes, rewards you with Steem and SBD (Steem Backed Dollars), which is Steemit’s own cryptocurrency.
You can then use this currency to Power up within the system, so your votes have more power (monetary returns) or use it to purchase goods/services within the platform. You can also transfer the cryptocurrency to various exchanges like Bittrex and Binance, convert it to Bitcoin and eventually transfer it to your bank as Fiat Currency (Dollars, Euros, etc.,)
Aesthetically, the interface is easy to use, for the most part. It reminds me a lot of Reddit and Medium. The text editor is a bit lacking and if you’re a seasoned blogger who’s used to WordPress, you might find the platform bare bones. Luckily, there’s another interface called Busy (Busy.org) that provides an improved interface to the Steem Blockchain – what you post on Busy.org, will be recorded on the Steem Blockchain and that means it will also be seen on Steemit.com.
What Can You Do on Steemit?
You can do what you normally do on Social platforms like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. You can post photos, publish posts, write opinions, upvote or downvote posts, and so on. However, instead of getting an ego boost, you get rewarded with Steem which is the cryptocurrency of the platform. You earn money for posting your photos and publishing your posts. You can also get money for upvoting or comment on somebody else’s posts.
If you’re familiar with Reddit, it works pretty much the same way with the caveat of making actual money from votes. The general idea is that anyone using the platform who contribute good quality content can get voted and reward or help by rating content while also getting rewarded for that action.
How to Join Steemit
It’s easy to register if you to have an account on Facebook or Reddit as a means of verification for your registration.
1 – Go to Steemit.com and Click on Sign Up.
2 – Click on “Sign up for Free.”
3 – Pick a User Name. Warning: This is permanent! Pick a username you are happy with it and live with it.
4 – Enter your Email Address.
5 – Check your email and confirm registration.
Your application will be manually reviewed and vetted and once that’s done you can start using the platform. Once you’re approved and start to access the platform I recommend doing some reading. Get a feel of how things are run. Pick a topic and niches and read some articles and engage other users. Comment and vote on other users (Steemians) content.
A popular thing to do for new Steemians is to take a dated picture of themselves with the Steemit logo and write an intro post with the tag “introduceyourself” just to test the waters. You will find that there are genuine users on the platform willing to help you out and get you started on the platform. Join a Discord channel related to a specific niche on the platform. There you can interact with other users and network with others. What is Discord? It’s a chat app that was used by Gamers but also now used for cryptocurrency and blockchain enthusiasts.
For now, I don’t recommend you check out the trending pages as I mentioned in the “Cons” above. Instead, pick subtopics like TravelFeed, Photofeed, there’s a big and thorough whitepaper describing how most of the things function in detail, but that is for the backend, rather than for the frontend accessibility that Steemit provides into the blockchain.
Steemit is still a social networking platform and even though powered by a blockchain and using cryptocurrency, is still intended for use by the masses. You just basically use it like you would use Facebook and such. You can gain a following by engaging other users and contribute useful and engaging content. Here the difference is other social media platforms is that you are paid for your time and effort.
Here are some tips that I wrote to help you succeed in during your first month on Steemit.
Now that you’re on the platform, you’re going to ask the Million Dollar question.
Can You Make Money on Steemit?
The short answer is yes. If you receive votes on your posts and if those votes have enough backing (Steem Power) then you will get higher rewards. Incidentally, you can also vote for yourself and if you have some investment in the platform it will also count towards making you money.
Have I made money with Steemit? Absolutely! I started in December 2017 and managed to amass over 6k followers just posting content that I already posted on my own Travel Blog – Always Wanderlust. I did have to initially invest my own money within the platform to get these returns. This post itself is replicated on Steemit using the Steempress plugin and is earning money as you’re reading. I also used bid bots to get my content to the trending pages.
The long answer can be complicated to explain and most of it can be explained in the Pros and Cons below.
The Pros and Cons of Steemit
Yes, It’s Possible to Make Money – It’s true! You can make money, through hard work, determination, sheer luck, and perhaps having friends with big money on the platform.
There are Plenty of Users – Steemit is running on the most active Blockchain in the world. There are lots of transactions and activities within the platform.
It’s Growing Rapidly – It’s one of the fastest growing Social Media Platform on the Web, with meteoric traffic rise.
It’s a Great Way to Get your Feet Wet in Crypto – Unless you’ve been living in a cave, you’ve heard about Bitcoin. Steemit is a great way to learn all about cryptocurrency and the technology behind it – The Blockchain.
It’s Decentralized – For the most part, it’s uncensored. If you’ve got any Libertarian leanings you will love the concept. There’s no governing “centralized” big brother telling you what you can or cannot do or say on the platform.
Gives Extra Exposure for Established Bloggers – If you already have a blog you can gain more audience within the platform by posting your content. If you’re using WordPress you can use the SteemPress plugin to automatically publish your post on the Steem blockchain.
Building an Audience Can Be Challenging – If you are just starting out without any initial investment it can be very hard to get a following.
Unknown Future of Steemit – If the platform goes the way of the Dodo, your content also goes.
Hard to Get Cash – If don’t know about cryptocurrency you can be in over your head. To get Fiat out of Steem requires you to convert it to Bitcoin first and sell Bitcoin to cash, which means you need to be on a cryptocurrency Exchange to make exchanges.
Difficult Barrier of Entry – It can be a nightmare to understand how the platform works and how the money is distributed. This can turn off a lot of newbies.
Select Few Controlling the Reward Pool – Because of the way Steemit is structured, accounts with large investments (Whales) control the reward pool which leads to abuse and corruption.
Content isn’t always King – Because of the flaws in the rewards and voting system, you will rarely see excellent genuine content on the “Trending” page. Whales with massive voting power vote themselves and their friends to the top regardless of the quality of their content.
The Biggest Cons Explained
The Top 2 Percent Users in the Platform Control the Reward Pool
The biggest draw to the platform, Decentralization, is also its biggest problem. People with massive Steem Power and investment on the Steemit platform (a whale) control the reward pool. With no “centralized” governing body to keep any abuses in check, these whales self-vote themselves to thousands of dollars a day! Steemit is basically the Wild-Wild-West of the crypto world.
Imagine if you have 1 million in Steem and you power yourself up. A single vote will net you $153 (Rewards value not based on USD) on any post (quality content or not) you decide to upvote. Since you can vote for yourself, you can basically reward yourself thousands of dollars a day based on the current value of Steem/SBD and how often you upvote your own content.
You can quickly see how this can lead to abuse of the reward pool created within the platform. It won’t be long before you see the same accounts voting on each other’s posts (circle jerking) to get their sub-par articles in the Trending Pages.
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Such a structure also leads to “Vote Selling.” It sounds just like it sounds, you can basically sell your votes to others for money. This lead to a lot of enterprising users to create “bid bots” which are accounts with massive voting power. You can basically buy votes from these bid bots in return for an upvote of your content and some users abuse it by pushing subpar content to the trending pages. I’m actually using these bid bots to promote this post on Steemit.
This has created a lot of friction between different camps in the platform – those who are against buying votes and for it. In most cases, bid bots become a necessary evil for content creators in order to make it to the trending pages. Buying votes are the only way to compete with whales who have the available funds to rocket themselves to the top.
Flawed System Design where Content isn’t always King
As mentioned above, anybody with massive Steem Power can rocket themselves to the top of the Trending Pages. This is regardless of the quality of their content. If the content gets the most valued votes then it is what’s going to “trend.” Just visit the trending pages at Steemit.com. You will see the same people day after day and week after week, posting horrid pictures of a street puddle and poem about how important the mud on the street is.
It’s very tough for newcomers with little to no investment in the platform to make money. This will lead vote buying from bid bots just to make to the Trending Page. Building an audience on Steemit requires money. If you don’t have the cash then you would need to know a “Whale” to support and vote for your content.
It can be Difficult to Cash Out your Money
While it can be tough to earn money posting articles on Steemit, getting it out is battle in itself. You only get your money after the seventh day of your post being in circulation. The reward system guarantees the author 75% of the amount and 25% to the curators. Out of the 75% reward, half of it is in the form of Steem Power which is only usable on the website via voting power. The other half comes as Steem Backed Dollars (SBD) which you can then transfer to an exchange. From there you can convert SBD to another cryptocurrency like Bitcoin which can then convert to Fiat.
The complexities of these transactions alone can drive new users away, especially if they are new to Cryptocurrency. It took me a couple weeks to get a hang of the whole thing where I was comfortable enough to move digital assets across to various exchanges all the way to my bank. All of this also comes with all the inherent risks with the volatility of cryptocurrencies.
So, in a nutshell, your 50 SBD could be worth $450 but tomorrow it might only be worth $6. Regrettably, the issue does not stop there. There are just a small number of exchanges that trade SBD, hence limiting your choices of how to get Fiat. In addition, if you want to get Steem out of your Steem Power you must go into what is called the “Power Down” mode. This only gives you back a proportional amount of the Steem per week over a 13-week period. This can be frustrating while you wait for your money while the value of Steem goes up and down on the exchanges.
There are a few retailers and business that take Steem or SBD as a form of payment. However, these are few and far between. There is yet to be mass adoption of popular Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin as a form of payment and Steem is still lagging.
You will have to open an account from a big cryptocurrency like Coinbase to exchange Fiat to a major coin like Bitcoin or Ethereum. You can then transfer Bitcoin or Ethereum to buy Steem or SBD to Binance or Bittrex. From there you can transfer your Steem to Steemit.
The Best Pros Explained
You Can Make Money – Just by Using the platform
Whatever you do on the platform, such as posting pictures or writing articles, you can make money. You earn by voting and commenting on posts. You earn by just delegating your Steem Power to somebody else who will put it good use. How much money you earn is proportional to how much you invest in it in terms of time or money.
You will never get such rewards from Facebook or Instagram. A Centralized Corporate Entity like Facebook & Instagram has private investors and a CEO who is taking in all the money from ad revenues. They earn this money from your content while you get nothing in return.
It’s the Blockchain Baby
Love it, hate it, or don’t know a thing about it. The blockchain is the future. Even if Cryptocurrency disappears tomorrow the technology behind it has massive uses and potential. Steemit runs on top of a blockchain. It costs you virtually nothing to use it. The decentralized nature of the platform means no censorship. It means users will have to self-police within the platform because big brother isn’t there to look out for you.
Massive Growth and Potential of the Platform
All the other social media platforms were once small and had once a small user base. Now, something like Instagram has over 40 million users. Who knows, maybe Steemit will be tomorrow’s Myspace. But there’s no denying its massive growth in the two years it has been out.
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It’s the most utilized blockchain in the world with more transactions than Bitcoin or Ethereum. There are now over a million users on the platform and still growing. There’s still time for you to adapt and grow an audience within the platform before it takes off. As they say in the crypto universe, “To the moon!”
You Gain More Audience for your Blog
If you already have an established WordPress blog, it’s really a no-brainer to join Steemit. You can use the Steempress plugin to automatically push your articles into the Steem blockchain. This gives you extra exposure and audience to your blog and even earn you some extra income in the process!
Would I Recommend Steemit to Fellow Travel Bloggers?
Yes, with a caveat. If you’re already an established Travel Blogger with a good following and use WordPress as your blogging platform. Using the Steempress plugin will make it worth your while. I’ve been using the plugin with great success, and making a few bucks in the process, for months now. It’s relatively easy to use, a no-brainer really. You simply post as you would normally on WordPress and your articles magically appear on the Steem Blockchain. As of this writing, the Steempress account on Steemit could potentially give you an upvote if you have high-quality content to contribute to the platform.
You’ll have to monitor your posts via the Steemit or Busy.org platform. There you will interact with your audience just as you would via Facebook or Twitter. You will have to use the same methods you used to build your audience on the various social media platforms. Which is to say, engage, engage, and engage with your audience.
If you’re just starting out and want to make money online blogging – there are better options for starting your own blog and using WordPress. You either need to have money invested in the platform or know somebody who has invested a lot on the platform. Starting your own website or WordPress blog is a much better option.
I do have some good news. There are several initiatives within the platform created to reward content creators who might otherwise go unnoticed. Take, for example, TravelFeed, which curates travel content and rewards content creators throughout Steemit. If you’re a photographer, several initiatives in the platform will help you earn money on good photography. Initiatives such as Photofeed and several photography contests run by @Juliank and @Czechglobalhosts give you such rewards.
There is also ongoing development within the platform to address the issues I’ve mentioned above. In short, Steemit is not perfect. It’s relatively new and swimming in relatively new waters called the blockchain. Problems and issues crop up. The platform will need some tweaks and fixes.
With all that said. Is it worth to join Steemit?
First, ask yourself this question – When was the last time you made a dollar from posting anything on Facebook?
1 – Steemit is a social media platform that pays its users for being involved.
2 – You can make money but you have to be patient and determined.
3 – It’s hard to get your money but becomes easier when as you learn about the platform and cryptocurrency.
4 – There are corruption and issues but there’s also development ongoing to mitigate these issues.
5 – It’s better to start your own blog or website than blog on Steemit if you’re just starting out.
6 – An already established blogger on WordPress can benefit from joining Steemit and using the Steempress plugin.
7 – You will learn a lot about the blockchain and cryptocurrencies just by being on the platform.