Dailyish Thoughts #83

42766924_1883365448451398_8532616793145999360_n
Coming to Florida soon

Back in Florida. All good things must come to an end, and our working vacation was no exception. Tomorrow I have an interview, and the next day, and the next day, and Monday. It’s going to be a looooong week. So many options. I kinda just want to keep freelancing, but in order to get a car to freelance, I need a “real” job.

Long drives allow for much thinking. So much thinking…. At some point I hope my life slows down enough to write it all down. I’ll sum up: Most of the Social Justice people are virtue signalling narcissists. Most of the social justice movement isn’t really concerned with helping people as it is concerned with it’s own image. Most of it also hinges on a collectivist worldview. Patriarchy and much of the “Christian” marriage and child raising advice out there makes your spouse and children into your enemy. Leftists are like locusts, they move out of the states they have decimated to states like Florida and then elect leftists who in turn decimate the new state, driving them to move to another state and begin the cycle anew.

There were other ones but it is late and I have an interview tomorrow. Go read the links and get an idea of my background before I write more and confuse you!

 

If you like my blogs/paintings/photography, please like and follow me!

Follow me on Facebook!

Check out my Steemit page for more content.
Many of my images are available as prints on my Artpal page

MAM, July 9th,2018: Artpal

Due to some technical difficulties (WordPress claims I have too much media uploaded), today’s post is simply a link to my Artpal page.

On that page you will find prints (framed and unframed) and mugs with my photos and paintings on them.

The prices vary depending on the size of the print and the item type. If you buy something, I make a decent profit and you get something fun to hang on your wall. Or drink out of. Whatever suits your tastes.

Thanks!

Why Do I Write?

I wish I had a full sized Matisse… And a desk… And a quill pen….

Why write?

Why write when you are pretty sure no one is reading?

Why write when it gets stressful to keep pumping out posts?

I ask myself those questions sometimes. It can get crazy trying to manage real life and keep up with a blog (or two or three). Sometimes it’s a strain to come up with ideas about what to write. Sometimes I write a complete dud. I had a friend once who wanted to do a podcast with me, like I have time or energy for that! No, blogging is enough.

But why do I do it?

Once upon a time I wrote poetry. Loads of it. I had enough teenage angst to fuel all kinds of creative output. I was published a few times in some random youth anthologies and school lit mags. It was fun, but with age came a dwindling of talent.

In those days I even wrote songs. A few were recorded by my wife’s (then girlfriend) guitar instructor. He hated me. At least the recordings were okay.

Growing up, I was fairly political. I had tons of opinions. I made bumper stickers for my car, some of which I am now greatly ashamed of. My university had a well-read paper and I put my political thoughts and writing skills into innumerable letters to the editor. Some were published, most were not.

After college I went into a bit of a writing hibernation. I had written so many papers and reports that I was spent. It took several years before I started to write randomly again. It was mostly political, but after some prodding I started my first blog about my exploits as a homesteading parent. It was a short lived blog.

Giving up on the blog, I holed up in writing commentaries on social and political subjects. All of them were saved as Word documents, pointlessly hidden on my hard drive.

Knowing how much I enjoy writing, my wife encouraged me to start a new blog. Thus was born Drip Torch Press. It has not always been an easy thing, but I have tried to stay fairly consistent in posting at least once a week. It’s certainly helpful to have the ability to schedule posts out weeks ahead of time. If you ever notice that the posts have stopped, just know that I died weeks ago.

So why do I do it? The big reason: catharsis. As someone who struggles with anxiety it is imperative that I have an outlet for my jumbled brain. The benefit of having a place to dump my thoughts and collect them into little piles is immeasurable.

Having this project is also a perfect way to increase focus. With anxiety comes a frequently scattered brain. It is healthy to have a place that distracts the mind and focuses it on one thing at a time. Learning how to focus here translates into learning focus elsewhere.

Writing to an audience, big or small, is also an ego boost. If I didn’t have a blog my narcissistic tendencies would probably channel themselves into destructive and annoying habits. At least here the recognition is deserved, not just expected.

And last but not least (until I think of another reason) I write for money. I try to impress people into buying my photos and paintings (it hasn’t worked). I post all of these posts on Steemit, which over the course of a year and a half has allowed me to buy into the cryptocurrency markets. It’s a slow trickle, but a trickle nonetheless.

One day I will be able to buy a cup of coffee and say “I earned this from doing something I love!”

That is the goal…

Making Money Like A Millenial: A Few New Ones

It seems like it has been a millennium since I wrote my last Making Money post. See what I did there?

All jokes aside here are a few new things I have tried recently to create some cash flow.

Heleum by Uphold: I jumped into Heleum back in its early days (i.e. last December) when crypto was riding high. I took about $100 of my Steemit money and put it into Heleum. It quickly tanked.

Heleum is a great concept, basically it does all the work of a broker for you. You put your money in and Heleum “launches” it out as “balloons”. These “balloons” are small amounts divided into different currencies, and not just cryptos. Heleum trades in several fiat currencies as well. Heleum’s algorithm watches the market and moves your balloon from one currency to another. If it works correctly in 30 to 90 days the balloon will “pop” at a profit.

In the six months I have had money in it, I have had one balloon pop. The profit of $1.79 was reinvested into a new balloon. The rest of my balloons have sunk and what was a $100 investment is now $30. I put a little more in when they announced some major upgrades to the algorithm, so far it is also in the red.

But. I have hopes for them. Uphold itself is a great wallet and exchange (albeit a little limited in its currency range). They have invested and continue to invest into their Heleum product and I think in the long run they will get the kinks out and the platform will be successful. Besides, hodling for the long term is the name of the game in cryptos. I bought in during a “high”, so of course I am going to suffer a bit in the low.

If you are interested in joining Heleum use my referral code here.

Robinhood: Robinhood is an app which allows laypeople like me to buy and sell stocks with no (or low) fees. Stocks are less risky than cryptos for the most part, although Robinhood does allow you to purchase a few cryptos as well.

I joined it thinking it would be a bit like Heleum but with stocks. I was wrong. Unlike Heleum, the user has to initiate the purchases and trades. So while it’s easy to use and you don’t pay fees, you still need to do your research and make sure your purchases are wise. I can see someone losing a ton of money if they don’t know what they’re doing.

So far it’s been fun. I don’t have a lot to invest, but I picked up a few penny stocks and my investment has stayed pretty level for the short term.

Note: sign up using a referral (hint hint mine) and you and the referrer get free stock. I didn’t know about this until it was too late and missed out. Perhaps some of you can help… 🙂 I have made a couple of referrals and it’s been fun getting a few stocks I would not have thought to buy for free. Click this link to get the app with my referral!

SoloLearn: this is an indirect way of making money. SoloLearn is an app where you can learn basic skills in several computer languages for free. It won’t give you a degree or anything but it is a stepping stone to further learning.

Right now I am learning SQL, a database management language. From what I have been told by an acquaintance in the field there is a high demand for Database Managers and if one can become proficient in SQL they can easily land a job paying $30/hr part time.

It’s boring, honestly, but the payoff potential seems worth it. I’ll keep you posted on my success or failure (probably this winter, when I have reliable internet).

The last few are Steemit centered:

Steepshot: for lack of a better way of saying it, Steepshot is the Instagram of the Steemit universe. It’s still in Beta so it has some problems occasionally, but for the most part it is just as easy as it’s non-paying counterpart. If you aren’t into blogging but you still want to jump on the Steemit bandwagon, this is a great way to do it. Post pics, get paid. Pretty simple.

DTube: again, for lack of better comparison, dtube is the YouTube of Steemit. I know many people make money on YouTube, with this the money is a direct result of how popular your videos are. No affiliate linking, no marketing, just upvotes. I haven’t done much with this since I’m not much of a video maker, but I have seen tons of people succeed on it.

Busy: Busy is Steemit, just under a different team. But it offers a few features that Steemit doesn’t. Busy allows plankton and minnows to determine their voting percentage, which is a big deal if you are limited on voting power. It also allows you to upvote your post when you post it, something which disappeared from Steemit mysteriously. Probably my favorite thing about Busy is that it allows you to create a footer to go at the bottom of each post, this is super helpful when you have a site or service you want to promote.

Anyone out there have any more suggestions for ways to grow income with little to no monetary investment? I am definitely interested in trying new ways to make money and telling everyone about them. Let me know in the comments what you think I should try next!

If you’d like to read the rest of the series start here.

What I Use to Climb Up The Steemit Ladder

Again, a post which might not be much use to exclusive WordPress users. But hey, if you’re having success here, maybe you will have success on Steemit.

Here is a list of things I have recently found useful on Steemit, as well as a few old ones.

SmartSteem: I used SmartSteem for a while without knowing it’s full potential, I even wrote a post about it a little while back. Smartsteem is great for increasing your Steem Power as well as getting a few more SBD’s out of your posts. But it’s good for more than just that. You can delegate some of your SP to the bot and share in the profits from it. You can also sell your votes and not only will SmartSteem pay you, you will get curation awards as well. It’s not a ton of money but a steady trickle is better than nothing.

Minnowbooster: again this is one I have used for awhile. They also provide a delegation service and a place to sell your votes. I’ve never been disappointed with them.

@bubblebee: this is one of those services that sends you a transfer saying “use my service!” and promises a bunch of great things. In this case it promises 50+ upvotes in exchange for 0.5 SBD. I was skeptical about it but after using it a few times it has definitely delivered. You won’t get 0.5 SBD worth of votes, but you definitely will get 50. I reserve this one for times when I want to get somewhere close to the trending pages.

@haji: another one of the spammy kinda users. I got way more votes out of it than @bubblebee as well as some resteems, but not the 1 SBD I sent to it. Again, great for trending.

Steembulls discord channel: this channel offers an upvote exchange. Vote for the post above you then post your link. Pretty simple way to get at least one vote. Plus you get to meet some other people, and networking is key on Steemit. @Steembulls is a great community for meeting other Steemians. I do warn you though, don’t get too post happy. I posted more than the limit of one per 12 hours and got cut off. They were gracious enough to let me back in when I groveled a bit.

Busy.org: How do I describe busy? Well, like the name it is a bit busier than steemit.com in terms of layout. But it gives the advantage of allowing you to create a footer to go on all your posts and allows you to auto-upvote your post when you post it. I haven’t found much more of an advantage than that honestly. It’s still worth checking out.

Steepshot: Steepshot is a great place to post photos and art. There is a great community there and since it displays just photos it’s great for visibility. Even though it limits your description to a short paragraph, it gives you the ability to use up to 20 tags instead of just 5. I highly recommend this if you are a photographer or artist.

I hope these are useful to you. Keep checking back for my disclaimer on vote buying. It’s going to be a douzy.

Just How Smart Is “SmartSteem”?

SmartSteem logo used by permission.

This may not be of interest to my WordPress followers, but anyone who is on Steemit should find this valuable.

A few weeks ago I realized I had not won a @photocontests contest in awhile. I thought maybe it was due to my use of SmartSteem to promote my posts. Then I noticed that @juliank, the sponsor of the contests, also uses it on occasion.

It turns out my photography is just crappy.

But it got me wondering, if someone as huge as @juliank uses it, it must be profitable, right?

I never actually did any calculating, I just took @smartsteem ‘s word for it that if you send them any amount you will earn 180%-216% (15% ROI) of that amount (after 25% curation).

So I decided to do an experiment. I decided to keep track of a week’s worth of my posts. I would spend various amounts on each post and see what the payouts ultimately were.

I made a spreadsheet for all the info and calculations and entered in the data once the votes stopped rolling in. Then I reran the numbers once the payouts occured. Most of the time they changed because of the fluctuating value of Steem Backed Dollars (SBD).

Method:

As soon as I made a post I upvoted it. Then I visited SteemBotTracker.com and used the SmartMarket bot to purchase votes.

I then waited for the votes to stop rolling in, or for the refund to come back. SmartSteem returns whatever it can’t spend on votes. I would then subtract the refunds from the amount spent to calculate how much I actually spent.

I did have to re-enter my bid on a few occasions. I only did this if the returned amount was 80% or more of the total amount allocated.

I then recorded the reward in SBD, subtracting my upvote amount from the total, since that would be there ordinarily.

I didn’t break down the votes by whether they were from SmartSteem voters (you can find out from your SmartSteem profile) or organic votes. I assumed the organic votes were harvested from the exposure from the SmartSteem votes. This may not always be the case, but for this experiment I made that assumption.

I also recorded the Steem Power rewards. It was not possible to calculate a rate of return for these since I only spent SBD and not STEEM in this experiment. I converted the amount of SP into SBD at the end just to see what difference it made and it made quite a bit of difference.

Overall I spent $39.203 SBD with an initial return of $38.914 SBD and 11.37 SP.

Results:

Actual return in SBD was $29.934. This was a 23.64% loss.

SP return was 10.246. I converted this to SBD (1.39 SP/SBD) and found the equivalent return to be $14.27 SBD.

Adding the total return of SP and SBD gave an ROI of 12.77% ($14.21 SBD). Given that SmartSteem has a flexible ROI I would call this close enough to the 15% usually quoted.

Pros of SmartSteem:

Easy to use, just go to https://smartsteem.com or https://steembottracker.com/ or send Steem or SBD through a transfer.

Gains user post exposure by getting posts into “trending” or “hot” categories.

Gains user followers.

It’s easy to keep track of votes and their total value on the SmartSteem site.

Great customer service through their Discord Channel. The few times I have had issues with refunds, @TheRealWolf has been more than willing to help.

You can buy upvotes for any post, even if they are not yours. This allows you to do a little undercover charity work for smaller minnows or people working for a cause.

Cons:

If you are hoping for a positive return just in SBD you will be disappointed (unless SBD value is on the rise). I think this very thing is the reason SmartSteem has had some negative press lately. The guy spreading the slams doesn’t understand how the returns work.

Sometimes you have to send your bid a couple times to get it through. This is more of an inconvenience than anything else.

Conclusion:

While my SBD return was a loss, overall return was a gain when one considers SP as well.

SBD dropped in value 24% from the first post to the last payout. This definitely had a negative impact on the results. In fact it lines up exactly with the difference between initial returns and actual returns.

SmartSteem is definitely not a get rich quick scheme. Like anything on Steemit it takes patience and time. It does however offer an easy way to snowball returns for quicker results. You don’t have to buddy up to some whale anymore for decent payouts on your posts.

Overall, SmartSteem is an easy to use tool to gain Steem Power, SBD, and followers. It is a great way for minnows to grow into dolphins and whales quicker than simply waiting for the system that is Steemit to find them.

If you want to get in on the action and give me a little bit of credit, use my link to join: https://smartsteem.com?r=driptorchpress

Thanks for reading!

Making Money Like a Millennial: Instacart

Instacart_logo_and_wordmark.svg

For this one I had to interview the wife. She did this. Not me. So here’s what she had to say, paraphrased of course.

What it is:

Instacart is a grocery shopping and delivery service that saves its costumers time and energy by allowing them to order groceries online.

On the shoppers end Instacart is an app which allows you to choose blocks of three hours to work in specific neighborhoods in your area. You can either sign up as a full-service shopper who shops and delivers or an in-store shopper who shops for orders within the store for pick up by the customer.

Whatever floats your boat.

How to get started:

Sign up as a shopper and download the shopper app from the Instacart site. Answer some questions, and wait for what seems like forever for them to accept you and send you the Instacart card.

General experience:

Unlike Uber where you can just jump in your car and start driving, Instacart requires you to apply for 3 hour time blocks in specific geographic areas.

Get in the zone…

The blocks are opened up every Wednesday and are first-come first-served. If you have “early access status” you can sign up for hours the Sunday before.

This screenshot sponsored by Uber.

When you are scheduled to work, drive to the geographic area you signed up for and wait for a call. Usually it makes sense to park at the grocery store you most expect an order from. This is not an exact science, sometimes you will get an order from a store on the other side of the “zone” you are working and you’ll have to spend time driving there.

Once you get the text you have a certain amount of time to accept the request. If you don’t accept it in time the request cancels and you get a ding on your rating. Before you accept it, you can click on the request and it will tell you how many items are in the order, how far away the purchaser is, and how much time you will have to complete the order. This can help you decide whether or not to accept it (though it is in your best interest to take it).

Then you shop. During shopping you can communicate with the customer via text if there are any items you need to substitute or anything you are unable to get.

Each list is divided by product type and in theory by store aisle.

Once you finish shopping you pay with the prepaid Instacart card. Then you load up and a drive to the customer’s house. You unload the groceries for them usually, but sometimes they will help if it is a particularly large order.

Make sure you inform them that the “service fee” is not a tip and the shopper never sees it. The customer will need to click on it in the final total screen and erase it before completing the transaction. If they want to leave a tip that has its own section.

How much money are we talking here?

During Thanksgiving week she made $500, but that was a super busy week. Usual revenue is more around $150, it really depends on tips. If you are nice, and you explain the “service fee” nonsense, folks are a lot more willing to tip.

People are so generous at holidays…

What makes it particularly difficult to make money is the fact that it is hard to get hours with the free-for-all system that they use to distribute them. We have heard that it has gotten easier recently though, so you may have a different experience.

General tips:

Try to get two orders at once. That doubles the money per hour.

Make sure you jump on the app early during the hours selection period every Wednesday. If possible qualify for early access by working 90 hours in 3 weeks or 25 hours in the past three weekends.

A rare day with hours available…

Bottom line:

Instacart is fun, you get to meet some cool people and enjoy the challenge of shopping on a time schedule. Money wise it’s not the best if you don’t jump on the hours when available, but when combined with other shopping services like Shipt it can be a great way to supplement income.