Hanging out in steemspeak recently, I see a lot of people talking about how to help newcomers to this platform. Steem has an image to the public of "create great content and earn", and our experiences as n00bs almost never matches that. Further, the understanding of how things work around here can vary dramatically based on user knowledge, experience, and goals. I can't know what everybody's experience there is, but I can share my journey of understanding.
What I Thought
Steem is a content platform with social interaction. Like Blogger, but we earn money from "likes".
This isn't wrong. It's not really a falsehood, but it sets up a very false expectation. No matter how great your content is, or how many hours you spend working on it, that effort will not correlate to earnings.
Steem is a social network. You may be aware of the term from things like Facebook or Twitter. Steem doesn't function like those things on the surface, but it basically does in the background. On Facebook or Twitter, you probably had some friends already on there to support your content. Steem doesn't have nearly as many users, so your friends may not be here.
Make friends. If you want to enjoy yourself on a social network, you need friends. You can bring them with you, but you'd be surprised how difficult that can be. More than likely, you will need to make friends. Some groups will say "go make a bunch of comments" or "post every day". This will work for some people, because that's how they make friends. It won't work for everybody. For many, this will take place in discord rather than directly on steem.
That doesn't mean your posts should be total crap (although that doesn't hurt as much as you might think, haha). Make decent content AND find friends that appreciate it. Steem won't get eyeballs on your content - you have to do that part. You'll see some people take a plain marketing approach (bidbots), some join teams, some just make friends in chat until they find a few people they like talking to.
In the end - do you. If you are prone to anti-social behavior, a social network probably won't be a fun place for you. If you'd like to make money, steem can enable that, but it enables it as a social network. Don't go around shmoozing people, or begging whales to upvote you. In a social environment, this behavior is a huge turn off and will only get you ignored or flagged. Don't spend all your time making great content and wondering why you're not rich. Making friends can be a slow roll.
Relax and enjoy
Go make friends