Hi readers! This post is my humble opinion on business models of paid-to-post platform and user experience of Steemit. I have been blogging at steemit.com/@coinbitgold on 3d printing, design thinking, academia issues and other issues for the past 5 months so that makes my experience pretty accurate as an user. A combination of my research in content management and user experience at steemit has inspired me in writing this opinion piece.
Disclaimer: This has nothing to do with the steem price. This is purely from content management and paid-to-post platform angle.
Steemit as case study
Explaining a little on steemit’s payout systems. Instead of direct tips to authors, curators upvote a post and the post will get an amount of estimated payout weighted according to the curator’s investment in the platform (called steem power) from the system. Curators with a lot of steem power in their accounts are typically called “whales” and many whales are the early miners of steem. But there are also curators who invested bitcoin or steem and bought steem power for curation. The higher the steem power, the higher the curation rewards for curators from curating posts. This becomes the main reason for why anyone would invest in steemit platform.
Bringing this discussion back to the payouts of content, it seems that there is no consensus on how much content should be paid at steemit. When no consensus can be reached, people disagree with one another reaching individual’s conclusion that “this post should be paid so much” or “this post got too low payout”. This is inevitable because it is difficult to gain consensus among such a big group of community members on how much payout is reasonable. Sometimes, emotions even run high when some whales proceeded to downvote/flagged posts which, in their eyes, do not deserve such high payouts or they simply do not agree with the content. (Downvotes/flags from whales reduce the payouts significantly) In particular, even when you invested in the platform and upvoted your favorite author, your favorite author might not win votes from other whales. This greatly deters any investment in this platform.
Disgruntled content creators left and those who manged to gain support will continue on and others will imitate those who got the support of whales and “catch the whale”, which means mainly writing for the whales. Some content creators have also contributed content which are not original in any manner because they see chances that of a risk that their content is not being rewarded appropriately when compared to market rate or even within steemit network. My opinion is that this situation will only spiral downwards toward a further degradation in the content quality, with readers seeing no value in the content or not even having any readers, but mainly curators clicking for the curation rewards.
Therefore, steemit as a an experiment, its model may be quite refreshing and successful to a certain extent, but may not be the “right” model for such paid-to-post or paid-to-write platforms.
Is Steemit networking legit?
At steemit, a casual blog post (make up tutorial, travel, birthday posts, life, etc) can get huge payouts if the author is “supported” by the “whales”. But a piece of highly technical and original content can get lower payouts if the author does not have so much whale support or nothing if no support at all. In short, authors can’t really get a meaningful payout if they are not willing to network with the whales or any other steemit users.
However, as a blog owner, i would think it is similar to starting and building a new blog. A blog owner would fully understand that that it is not possible for a new blog (like days old) to have thousands of readership or any revenue from advertisement. Similarly, a blog owner adopt social media tools like twitter, facebook and the likes to promote their blog and network with other blogs who have similar blog content. However, when there is a network and “right” audience, it can greatly accelerates the visibility of your content.
However, it should be noted that if content consumers are following the writer or the content itself? In my humble opinion, a writer has to gain a really good reputation for fans to follow their work but casual content consumers tend to just follow the content with a click of google. It is up to the writer to gain a solid reputation for fans to follow their work. However, at steemit, bloggers do not stick to their niche but rather jump from niche to niche depending on what they think is “profitable” and can attract whale votes. This is also probably one of the downfalls of steemit content since there are many technical errors in their niche content. Hence, some sort of verification for credible writers to write highly technical content should be a must to attract content consumers.
Other paid-to-post networks
Paid-to-post platforms are not new. A few forerunner platforms are Tsū and Bubblews which are now defunct. Both business models rely on posters to contribute content and their revenue is from advertisement.
Patreon is similar but works slightly differently. Patreon is a network with content creators and fans directly supporting their content via monthly payments or per creation. So this is a direct tipping model from fans to content creators. Patreon is also a network where content creators get together in communities and support each other’s work. (I have created an account but still looking to build my page!) Content creators get to create their content and label the price tags. (No more unsatisfied content creators, hooray!) In addition, patreon pays in fiat currency which seldom has a lot of fluctuations. Writers getting paid in fiat currency is still very much the norm.
On the other hand at steemit, authors are paid in steem dollars and steem which is very much subject to fluctuation in the cryptocurrency market. One can get a hefty payout by blogging at steemit if one is lucky. (a makeup tutorial was USD$30,000 for a post when steem was priced at its peak USD 4/steem) It is known that cryptocurrencies trading market is often volatile but if writers are more open-minded (willing to explore new mode of payments and take a risk), or part-time (does not depend on writing as the main mode of income), or even new writers, then perhaps the likes of steemit, yours network, akasha, lbry, and cryptocurrency-based platforms might attract content creators as the main mode of payment. (I talked about the paid-to-post platforms in one of my posts here.) But who are the content consumers of such cryptocurrency-based platforms? It is most reasonable to assume that they buy things with cryptocurrency, or are even traders and willing to pay for content.
With this, i end this post. Please feel free to share any thoughts, especially if you are a new writer/blogger and interested to write at concurrency-based paid-to-post platforms!