What I Have Learned From My First Month on Steemit | AJ Brockman

in steemit •  10 months ago

Photo courtesy of The Atlantic Current Magazine

As some of you may have noticed I have taken the last week off from my daily posting. I have used this time to reflect and more importantly answer some important questions within myself on what this community is, why I want to be here, and what the future holds.

Why I started on Steemit in the first place.
I have been creative for as long as I can remember. I have spent my entire life trying to make a living from my art and creative passions. I have been lucky enough to bridge the gap between being creative and business, something a lot of creative people have a hard time accomplishing. Over the last 15 years I have built many creative focused businesses including an art gallery co-op/craft beer bar, a national music venue, and the revitalization of an entire arts district through gentrification of a small South Florida town. I am also devoted to helping other artists pursue their passions. Especially other artists with disabilities. However, None of that even comes close to the opportunity that Steemit brings. I have been a crypto enthusiast for the last year and found this platform through @JerryBanfield (more on that later). I was blown away from day one by the way this platform can (and will) revolutionize how creative people and content creators can make a living through their work. The true holy grail for every working artist. Is it about the money, yes, let’s all be honest here. But it’s the idea behind this platform and the thousands of like-minded individuals that support this community as a whole that is life-changing.

Photo from my documentary "Painting With One Finger"

Art Is My Life.
Long story short… I wanted to be able to post my art, and in return share a piece of me with all of you. In my opinion, as an artist, I feel it is my duty to share what I create with the world In order to invoke a certain connection, feeling, or experience, that is specifically unique to each of us. Is it slightly self-serving? I suppose in some sense. Furthermore, I think art is more about a connection with the viewer then the actual subject matter, so sharing it with the largest audience possible (on a social media platform in this case) has a huge impact. I could write an entire article on “what qualifies as art” but that is a different conversation for now.

All that being said, My art was brought into question last week (Article Here). Initially, I was pissed, as many people tried to find a way to paint me as a scammer or that I had a hidden agenda. I put up a wall and immediately got defensive, Writing it off as Internet drama. However, the more I thought about it and through many conversations, I realized that what I perceived as “attacks” was simply an opportunity for me to learn.

@nonameslefttouse expressed feeling very misled by my posts and creative process. Looking back on it now… He was 100% correct. My intent was never to mislead anyone, but I made some major mistakes being new to this platform, it’s ethics, and many other factors with my eagerness to be a part of the community. I took for granted that a lot of you would be familiar with digital art and how these pieces are created. Do I use reference photos? Yes, most artists do. Was I copying someone else’s work fraudulently, or trying to plagiarize work that was not my own? ABSOLUTELY NOT. Some of my Photoshop work was mistaken for actual photography and for that I apologize. I do not use any filters, even though some of my work appears that way. My biggest offense and the real reason my post was flagged was for misusing the tags and inappropriately categorizing. @nonameslefttouse said it perfectly “We are surrounded by scammers and It’s up to us to look BETTER than them”. That being said, you have to go above and beyond in your transparency, documenting everything you are doing in the most straightforward way possible. I never thought about it quite like this, but now I will strive to do so. I also had a great conversation with the @steemcleaners team on what I was doing wrong and how to better my content while following the best practices.

Bots… To use or not to use, that is the question.
The other elephant in the room was bot usage. Yes, I was using bots… A LOT. If I had to do it over again, I’m not sure I would change things, but I do understand the negative impact this has in a whole new light now that I have been educated. Do I regret using them? Yes. Will I be using them moving forward? Most likely not, but I’m not going to say “absolutely not” and have somebody write me months from now and say “look what you said, you lying bastard”. I think bots have their place but only for extremely important posts that need to reach the community on a grander scale. Looking back on it (especially in a bear market) I could have used that money to just buy more steempower but I would not have been able to grow my followers/views to nearly what it is, and for that I am grateful to be able to connect with all of you that I would not have been able to otherwise.

All of the most recently mentioned infractions came together in a perfect shit storm, hen I also garnered the attention of an infamous Steemit “enforcer” & his crew (he who shall not be named). He is now under the assumption I am a scammer because of all of the above-mentioned activities as well as my association with @JerryBanfield. I don’t think there’s anything I can do to change his mind at this point, but, if you are reading this… I am not the person you think I am. I actually think what you do for the community comes from the right place (the way you handle it is another story). I have done a bunch of research into your history and mission the majority of which I agree with, So I hope we can be civilized with each other, especially after making changes to what your issues were with me.

On that note, I do associate with @JerryBanfield and he has become one of my dearest friends over the last few months. I find it sad that I might be called into question, just based on who I call my friends, but that is the reality of the world we live in… online or offline. I have also met some incredible people because of Jerry (partner chat, you know you are) and for that I am grateful. Sure, Jerry is eccentric, but he has a heart of gold and has done way more good for this community then bad. Does he make some impulsive decisions, maybe, but at least he acts on his ideas bringing them to life. A lot of people can’t say that. He speaks his own truth and that is admirable. The exposure he provides alone, should have all of us thanking him. I will never apologize for, nor denounce my friendships. Plain and simple. We will be moving forward with our planned South Florida meetup (under a new name and direction) so keep an eye out for that along with an update. Again, being fully transparent.

Photo from my documentary "Painting With One Finger"

My future with all of you!
I don’t plan on going anywhere, nor do I want to. I hope I was able to clear the air a bit with this. More importantly I want everyone to know I am taking all the criticism as constructively as possible. I will be doing everything in my power to be as transparent as possible moving forward. I will be providing detailed descriptions of my process, providing reference photos when possible, updating my tutorials and I am happy to answer any specific questions in the comments moving forward. I will be suspending my bot usage immediately and I will make sure to explicitly discuss any usage in the future. That means it’s as important as ever to upvote the posts you feel are worthy. Again, this entire process has been a great learning experience and didn’t realize the impact my actions had with my followers. I want to do things the “right way” moving forward because I want to be a part of this platform and community for the long haul. Your support is what matters and I appreciate each and every one of you.

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good stuff man

I was hoping you'd be able to bounce back and I'm happy to see this post. I wrote about the little incident myself here. I wanted to explain my side but at the same time make an attempt to right any wrongs. I'm sure I directed some traffic your way and hopefully helped you get a few followers while you were taking a break.

It is what it is, what's done is done. Can't change anything. I can't really apologize for feeling misled and reacting the way I did but I can say I'm sorry for causing some distress in your life. My intention wasn't to hurt any feelings or whatever but I do realize now, it probably stressed you out so I do apologize for that.


Absolutely, I just read your follow-up article and commented as well. Sorry it took me a while to see it. I completely respect your actions and as I have said, this has all been a very constructive learning experience. Yes, the stress level was real, especially after losing almost 1k in rewards, But that is the price I needed to pay. Your public apology/explanation shows your true intentions and I hope we can continue sharing and learning from each other. I hope others can adopt your practices because it will make this place so much better. Thank you my friend.

Hi @abrockman, glad to see you back! I was hoping that hiccup wouldn't end up completely turning you off the platform.

I'm curious what you learned about bots though in terms of their negative impact. I've been on Steemit for about a month now and I see some people use them when they want to promote something, some don't. I've experimented with them and found in the worst case scenario I pretty much broke even(if I don't mind being paid back in SP, which I don't) in terms of payout, and each time I gain a few new followers I'm assuming from the greater exposure.

Of course I know some people abuse them by taking rewards for shit content, but if you're creating high quality content and you want to promote it, what's the problem?

From what I can see Steemit's built in Promotional section doesn't work, and the bots seem like the best band-aid until the platform comes up with better solutions for new users to grow. I don't think it's going to go anywhere if in general peoples advice is something along the lines of, you have to put several months in the hole, or just create great content and don't think about the money, etc. That's fine if your content is something that you can't make money from anywhere besides Steemit I suppose, but as a professional artist who makes all of my income from creating art in one way or another working for free is not really an option. I don't mean that to say I'm too good for that blah, blah, I mean I literally cannot afford to spend time making art that's not going to make me any money.

I think a lot of the artists here are doing what I'm doing ie posting mostly older work and something new every now and then, but the dream would be to be able to make enough money on Steemit to have it replace some of the other work I need to do to pay bills etc.

So my question to you and anyone else who wants to chime in is what's so bad about bots?


Hello again, @midlet.

I'm a digital artist. Have a look at my blog someday. I haven't used promotion bots. I've been a member here since September 2016. In that time I've been able to build up a nice pile of SP(20000+), all earned. There could be a bit more, but I took some out and reinvested elsewhere.

Have a look at my followers. 2665 as of this writing. I don't do anything other than post and leave a few comments laying around on other blogs. These followers just show up, slowly. Have a look at the rewards beside my posts. I didn't pay for that. Roughly 25% of that goes to curators, the rest is mine. It's been a bit slow lately, but I'll get 100-200 views per post and more when things are going well. I don't buy those views. All of what you see, I worked for, and it took a long time.

Let's look at @abrockman's blog now. He has been going all out using bots for a month now. Anyone who's anyone saw his posts. He nearly has as many followers as me. 2286 as of this writing. All of that money spent purchasing "exposure" helped him get a lot of followers. He didn't use bots for this post, so far. Majority of his previous posts, he did use bots. Lot's of money beside those posts. Look at this post. As of this writing, $3.58. As of this writing, 58 views, 37 votes. If I removed my vote with 20000 SP behind it, his payout would drop to about 70 cents. I put majority of that money there, as of this writing, with one vote.

That's what happens to nearly everyone who buys the votes. You can buy your friends but they're not necessarily going to have your back. A high number of followers doesn't pay people here. Votes that we don't pay for, pay us.

When new members see hundreds of dollars beside a post on the trending page, they think the post is there because it is popular. They don't know there's a chance the slot was purchased by someone using bots. They think the blogger is successful, they want to know them, they want to follow with the hopes of getting a follow back, but their votes are worth pennies, if that. I just picked ten random followers from brockman's list. Every single one of them was broke, no money in those wallets, no SP. They can't support an artist who wants to make money. You'd need over 100 of their votes to make a dollar.

Another problem we have is how the reward pool works. Everyone shares that. Our votes push and pull it around. If I were to purchase $300 worth of that reward pool, that's how much I'm taking away from everyone else without their consent. That's the part I personally have a huge issue with. Have you ever noticed your payouts drop in value? That's one of two things. The value of the tokens dropping, or the reward pool being pulled away from you. If I vote for someone, I move about $3 dollars of that reward pool to the post I feel deserves it. When others vote for me, they too move the reward pool my way. I don't decide how much I earn, the people do. I'm comfortable with that, I believe it's fair. I personally feel it would be incredibly selfish of me to decide MY post is better than all the others and deserves a huge chunk of the reward pool beside it. That's just my opinion.

Steemit is a new game. The old ways don't necessarily work here. My advice to you, after looking at your blog is this: People don't want to follow ART. There are literally millions of images to look at on this platform. They want to follow the ARTIST. I add a lot of my personality into my posts, I entertain people, plus they look at my art.

You said:

I think a lot of the artists here are doing what I'm doing ie posting mostly older work and something new every now and then

Incorrect. I work hard and show something new in nearly every post. I recently put all of my work from the previous two months of posting into one post. Just to focus only on the art. If I would have been thinking, maybe, that post should have been the post I actually promoted up to the trending page. I can agree, there is a time and a place for promotions. One epic post every couple of months or even once a month if you have a lot to show wouldn't be a bad idea at all. At least that way I'm being fair and I'm not cutting in line, putting all of the artists under me while slowly putting them out of business... which is what people are doing when they buy the votes.

P.S. Your recent post has $25 dollars beside it. You paid for some of that. Does the $25 dollars make the post stand out above the other posts with $25 next to them? .... you guys are just shooting yourself in the foot. Pardon my honesty.


Im a new artist on this platform, i have learned a lot from you...blessing

Thanks for sharing your story

really you write this friend, can change human life to be creative, thanks for sharing @abrockman, you are a kind person.

AJ thank you very much for sharing your experience with us here to help us all learn!

@nonameslefttouse I am happy to see your conversation about this and am resteeming to help more of us see it!


Thank you Jerry, I think there is a lot to learn from this… Especially in the comments, some of the best dialogue I have seen yet on the bot situation. Always appreciate your efforts my friend.


Hey Jerry. I said a few more things. I can't keep talking about it. I don't know why but this stuff stresses me out. Well, I do know why, I just don't want to talk about it.

I'd just like to apologize. In the past I approached you about a few things in your comment section. I realize my personality when I'm being serious can be a bit much for some people. I don't think you enjoyed how I handled that. If I got under your skin, I apologize. I gotta go...

Always try your best!

Hey Brock, I think people misunderstood your intentions, itakes some time to find your bearings on this platform. I'm almost two month in and still trying to find a productive balance. Keep posting, telling your story and finding allies. I'm sure you can be succesful here. Good luck and best wishes 🤙🏽


Thank you sir! Yes, it was never my intention to mislead… My process does appear similar to Photoshop filters (Even though it isn't) and I should have been a lot more forthcoming with my process, even though it is hard work. In situations like this you truly find your supporters and for that I am grateful. Appreciate your feedback.

Great to be running on Steem with you brother @abrockman! Awesome article, and you've got my 100% upvote, lol. You're inspiring, my friend!


Thanks Doc! I feel the same about you brother, I am inspired by your musical talents. Its experiences like this that help us all grow together.

Hey man, I had no idea this happened, but hey we live and learn! Honestly, after watching that video on your process I was blown away...I can tell how much time and effort goes into the creation of your digital paintings. You're crushing it, and inspiring people at the same time, so keep it up. Just my two cents, but you're a hell of an artist in my book.


Thanks brother! Yes, I thought my video would help people understand the process a little bit better but I need to include that with everything I post. Appreciate your kind words and continued support. Will be posting more soon. Thanks again!

Fantastic content

I think steem it could be a good why for people with disabilities to earn iincome . I first started as a just a blogger but i thought about creating digital art to go along my blogs .


Agreed 100%, that is going to be a future initiative of mine I can guarantee you that! It could be life-changing for so many.

lovely to read this post.. thanks a lot!

All of the most recently mentioned infractions came together in a perfect shit storm, hen I also garnered the attention of an infamous Steemit “enforcer” & his crew (he who shall not be named). He is now under the assumption I am a scammer because of all of the above-mentioned activities as well as my association with @JerryBanfield. I don’t think there’s anything I can do to change his mind at this point, but, if you are reading this… I am not the person you think I am. I actually think what you do for the community comes from the right place (the way you handle it is another story). I have done a bunch of research into your history and mission the majority of which I agree with, So I hope we can be civilized with each other, especially after making changes to what your issues were with me.
dont worry about crazy people or what anyone says! never waste time trying to change them.. WE know who you are! Just be yourself.. You know the truth and who cares what others think. There will ALWAYS be a critic in the room!

Yes, I agree… Like I said, this is something we have to deal was both online and off-line. A part of human nature. Thank you for your support as always my friend :)

Nice to see you back.


LOL… Amen

Nice to see you working through things in order to always persue your art and push yourself forwards! Using negative inlets as an outlet to make your creativity grow is amazing and something sought for!
What's is your bar/ restraunts name in Florida? My family and I are from Illinois and travel to Florida to see family member at times! We would love to visit your bar if we are traveling through the area!
Have a a great day and keep Steeming On!


Sounds like a plan! If you're ever up towards Bloomington, Illinois and like Mexican as much as we do, stop by Taqueria El Porton! Best Mexican around, and it helps that the in-laws own the business! We love seeing people come up with creative fun places to eat and drink at! One day our Food Truck will be open and we'll be crusin' for some amazing taste-buds! Love seeing you succeed through life, and look forward to hitting more goals to come! Have a great one, dude! Stay awesome!


Thank you for your support! I agree, I feel I have grown tremendously from this. I have built my life on turning negatives into positives and it's funny how that translates here as well. The name of my bar is "The Brewhouse Gallery" you can check it out here. Let me know If you plan on coming by and maybe we can catch up.

Loved this little gem:

“We are surrounded by scammers and It’s up to us to look BETTER than them”.

Thanks for sharing this, i find it very inspirationnal as i'm also in a hard place from my health and physical condition. I hope you the best, and your art is amazing ^^


I am happy to connect with you… I look forward to many more posts on your project/game as well :)

The most shocking thing in this post, for me, is that someone could think that being friendly with @jerrybanfield is a bad thing. Boggles my mind after following him for the last couple of months. Perhaps a recent posting about the real Jerry Banfield affronted their sensibilities. 😎


LOL… Well, that post certainly would cause an interesting first impression. However, I think the majority of it comes from Jerry's popularity here. Once you get to a certain level, The haters will surface no matter what you are doing. It is up to us to form our own opinions on each other and associate with the ones that try to further our values… Above all adding to the value of this platform and what we all would like to see it accomplish. Jerry is the epitome of all of that.


Jerry is the epitome of all of that

100% in agreement.

A good read.

I am very new to Steemit, just beginning to start visiting regularly. I got a bit phased by a post on ethics which seemed to be a little too, well, strict. This is very new territory however, a reward system that is true genius (IMHO). There are going to be some very novel problems I expect in how the system is used, I have been thinking a lot about what could come up. Still, after a while I began to think we won't really properly understand these problems until we dive in and get involved, so I resolved to do just that. You openly admit to making some mistakes, and we can all learn from those mistakes, so thanks for sharing your experiences.


Thank you for your awesome feedback. This was the goal in sharing. The best way to learn is by making your own mistakes and failures, but I hope this has givin' you some insight. As you said, the more involved you are, the more there is to learn. I have given you a follow and look forward to seeing you around.


Thanks for the follow, followed you back!

All I can say is wow. You have achieved some serious traction in a month.

I read this with the intention of learning from your experience as well. I'm glad that I did. I am sorry for what happened to you but know that this post has helped a minnow like me to place things in perspective. Thank you, @abrockman!


Really happy to hear you were able to learn something from this experience, that makes it worthwhile! I have given you a follow and if you ever need advice I would be happy to help. Thank you for your comment and support.


Oh my, thank you! Followed you too. I'm looking forward to learning more from you 😁

You pushed me to paint different subjects. As I normally paint landscapes. Her is your handy work.
Thank you for inspiring me. We all have to learn from our mistakes. I wish you well.

You embody "INSPIRATION".
I completed my first month here on February 24th and you have touched my heart with your talents and even more than that by being who you are.
I opened your Post called "Going Home" and what I discovered was just beyond words. The post was amazing but when I discovered the artist behind the painting I was just awestruck to say the least.
Hope to be a silent witness to your journey here on Steemit.

Resonating 100% with your words @abrockman. Glad to have you back on the platform with new ideas and a new vision 🙏🏼

this probably helps me a lot

Your story is very inspiring.!

es bueno tener la determinacion de hacer lo que uno le gusta y si la mantienes se te presentan estas oportunidades como steemit

I'm so sad that you got dragged into drama here.

interesting post here. the dillemma of the modern digital age is not a new one but it is intense. this is the same issue musicians faced selling to A&R men and dealing with the industry.
I love the honesty shared here by @Abrockman as well as @nonameslefttouse . What is apparent and, true enough from personal experience, with the question of integrity in any creative industry it isn't what you do, but how you do it.
Both of you clearly maintain integrity to your art forms but are clearly also willing to use different roads to present them. I no longer see the argument. nothing really is that sacred, we just believe so at the time. the world will do what the world will do regardless. If one person feels qualified by not using bots, while another feels qualified to use them, at the end of the day all that really matters is the quality of the art. The rest is pretty much subjective, but then an argument could be made for the quality of the art being subjective too.
Anyway great post, probably the first one with real feeling I have seen on here in days of posting and trawling steemit trying to understand what the fk it actually is about, and if anything real lies beyond the steem