Saturday, May 16, 2009

HubPages and EHow: Legit Revenue Sharing Model, No Scam

When I first started writing web content last fall, I guessed sites like eHow and HubPages were scams. Write articles on whatever you want and earn ad revenue on them? Real moolah? Money that actually gets deposited into your PayPal account? What I've learned since then is that they're not scams.

I've been on eHow for nine months and on HubPages for about one month [note: August 8, 2009 update--I've been on HubPages now for 4 months and it's still the most profitable revenue sharing site for me.  note: June 1, 2010 update - It's still the best earning of all the article sites for me.  Last month, my HubPages articles topped eHow's per article earnings by about $1 per article.]

April 5, 2010 Update:  eHow has just today ended their Writer's Compensation Program (WCP) for new writers.  Well, not exactly ended.  EHow is no longer accepting new WCP applications and any new publishing on eHow will be through Demand Studios, their partner company (both are owned by Demand Media.)  Existing WCP articles will remain on the site if you choose and continue to earn money.   Now back to your regularly scheduled blog post...

Neither are scams, according to my definition, anyway. They're revenue sharing sites, in which you write articles, and you share the revenue you earn on them with the operators of the website - eHow or HubPages. In fact, they're both pretty wonderful for the starving writer who is willing to write pulp--yes, pulp, except it's Web content pulp, rather than the science fiction pulp of the Golden Age.

The obvious benefit of publishing your writing on HubPages rather than on your own website is search engine ranking, sometimes erroneously referred to as "Google ranking." Getting traffic to your blog or website is a long and painstaking process; getting traffic to a HubPage article, like this article on grinding whole wheat flour (a randomly chosen but nice article on HubPages, not done by me) is easier. They come up high in the search results. This means more views on your articles and ultimately more revenue.

EHow

EHow articles tend to look crowded and busy, but eHow is big. Joining eHow is like joining a popular club in school. Most people do it, if only to do it. And just as a school's administration can seem like they "just don't get it," eHow's customer service often misses the boat, remaining in more of a traditional corporate model than an Internet-savvy revenue share model.

Update:  As of April 5, 2010, eHow is no longer accepting new people into the WCP (Writers Compensation Program).  Boy, things sure do change fast on Internet City.

HubPages

I really like HubPages. Really, really like HubPages.  Here is my complete review of HubPages.   The site goes through regular upgrades, and it's become amazing. The "hubs"--or articles, like the "lenses" of Squidoo--have an attractive theme and some fantastic layout functionality. And they really are hubs, because they're multimedia centers, with RSS feeds, video (and not just YouTube) capabilities, Amazon and eBay affiliate modules, the ability to earn money through Google AdSense, and a flexible layout. The hubs resemble magazine spreads. The customer service is, in a word, amazing. The founders and operators of HubPages appear regularly on the forums, soliciting feedback and keeping writers updated.

One note about HubPages: it's not really designed for creating backlinks. HubPages has a system for ranking users, and if all the articles contain external backlinks, then the backlinks are "nofollow." HubPages has spammer defenses like nobody's business, and removes articles deemed as overy promotional. It's better to use other article sites than HubPages simply for the purpose of creating backlinks--you'll end up wasting your time and your article will probably get removed. Use it for direct revenue.

Why do people assume HubPages and eHow and other sites like them are scams? There's a very good reason--because the commercial Internet is still very new, and new ideas for making money are constantly cropping up. These new revenue generating models have trouble falling into traditional categories.

As consumers and as writers, we don't know what to think of them. They could be scams and frauds--and often are. They could be innovative, legitimate business enterprises--and often are. We don't yet know how to recognize what is what. Because we're floundering around in a truly new world, we don't yet have confidence that we know our way around this Internet City of multiple and amorphous identities. We have to rely on Internet research to find out if these revenue sharing models are legit.

It's a trial and error process. The more we experience and learn, the better we recognize what is an effective way to make a living as a writer on the Internet...and what's a scam or fraud - or simply ruthless exploitation of our skills and work efforts.

Copyright Nerd Writer Mom 2008-2010 - All Rights Reserved

24 comments:

mrdprince said...

I thought this was an excellent article, simple and to the point. I have been wondering about Hubpages and how to use them. I will give them a try.

Len Rapoport said...

I think you hit the "nail on the head" with your evaluations. I am writing an article for our web site on eHow and my research and experience which started out being quite nice, until I met some of the kids that seem to run the forums and the site itself.

Would like to quite you and link to your article if I may. Please contact me if you want so we can discuss it further. I couldn't find ant contact information on this blog.

Nerd Writer Mom said...

mrdprince:
Thanks for the positive feedback--I'm glad it helped. Let us know how it goes!

Len:
Thanks, also. I responded back through your website. If you didn't get my email, send me another holler!

Cheers,
NWM

Richard Kent Matthews said...

Been with HubPages for almost a year; still no revenue. Am about to try Examiner.com. Any info on that group? Thanks.

Nerd Writer Mom said...

Hi RKM,

I have no experience writing for Examiner.com. I investigated writing for them once, then decided I didn't like their business model. Not saying they aren't good for writers, just not this writer. ;)

What kind of articles are you writing for HubPages? No revenue at all is pretty unusual if it's search-engine optimized copy. Do you orient your articles to the searches your readers would type in?

If not, or if you write pieces designed to entertain, rather than inform, or if you're using HubPages primarily to promote something else, they're probably not suited to earning online through revenue share (which Examiner ultimately is, too, even if it pays per view.)

Anonymous said...

Nerd Writer Mom,

What kind of articles do you write? I've seen you on other forums like Associated and Constant Content. Do you have an opinion on what kind of article has a better chance of making money on hubpages as opposed to Associated Content? I usually write topical pieces on culture, current events, politics etc. I always get published but my articles go in commentary sections in newspapers. I want to start making money. Any advice?

stevefon2004

Nerd Writer Mom said...

Hi again stevefon2004,

Hmmm, I think it's a case of mistaken identity. I've never posted on an AC forum and only a few times on the CC forums. Maybe you have me confused with another writer? I only have a few articles up on each site, and have all but forgotten my AC articles!

I write articles across the spectrum - from product-related articles to articles about current events. I try to have a presence in a variety of niches. Most of my articles are written for eHow and HubPages.

I'm happy to offer you my advice, for what it's worth. Some ways to earn money online by writing include writing for hire, selling your writing on consignment, and revenue sharing. Tell me what your ambitions are in writing. What do you want to achieve? What kind of writing do you want to do? What kind of writing don't you want to do?

Anonymous said...

Hi Nerdwriter,

Thanks for getting back so fast. I am an experienced writer but only as a hobbyist but I have been published in such newspapers as the Washington Post, WSJ, Globe and some others on OP-Ed pages. I write mostly about politics, current events, culture, history, and topical subjects. I believe I'm good enough to be a paid writer but I have no business experience in the writing industry and am confused as to where the best place is to start. I have a Computer Science degree but I don't like writing about technology. I am seeking guidance from you as to getting started. Writing for hubpages requires you to have affiliate accounts to get paid which I don't have and they are difficult and have a very lengthy process. What do you suggest? I want to break in to the scene.

Thanks

Stevefon2004

Nerd Writer Mom said...

Hi Stevefon2004,

Are you in a non-US country? Is that why you say it's hard to get an AdSense, Amazon Associates and eBay Partner Network account? Have you tried it? I'm in the States and found them pretty easy to get a year ago, but I don't know what people are experiencing now.

If you're published in Op/Ed in print, you may need a shift in paradigm to successfully write online for money. With print journalism in crisis, a lot of media folks are moving online but finding the difference between writing for print and writing for the Web mystifying. For one thing, you may find it hard to make money writing entertainment-based copy and news-based copy rather than product-based copy.

As for where to start, you have one edge. Professional experience in writing is not critical if you're going to write online, mostly because the Internet offers many new business models. So you're not alone in being lost...you're right where most folks are when they start.

You might want to haunt places like the eHow forums, the HubPages forums, and the Webmasterworld forums.

Read every help page on the Google AdSense and AdWords site there is to understand the revenue sharing model.

Put up a profile at oDesk, eLance or other writing job bidding sites, and try applying for some jobs (look for quality jobs instead of people who want you to write 10 articles a day for $2 per article).

Do searches online to find out what people are saying about Demand Studios, Suite101, and Textbroker. Apply to those three places, reading the Terms of Service in detail, then read the forums and blogs and learn.

You might also want to read some of my articles on Web content writing, eHow, and HubPages.

There are eBooks some people sell for how to write for specific sites as well as how to on earn with revenue share. There are places that charge you money to learn to keyword and market properly. I'm sorry to say I have no idea how useful or useless these aids are.

Nerd Writer Mom said...

Oh, and I forgot to say, I believe you don't need an affiliate or Google AdSense account at Suite101 or eHow, or the write-for-hire sites like DS and Textbroker. Demand Studios is open to, I believe, writers from the U.S., U.K. and Canada.

Anonymous said...

Thank You Nerd Writer Mom, One thing that is difficult to do when researching these things is to filter out the BS from the good info. That's why people like yourself are so valuable. I'll try out the things you have advised.

Thanks Again;

Stevefon2004

Anonymous said...

Hey Nerd Writer mom,

I'm back again and even with all my recent research am still a bit confused. So many people say so many different things about which sites to write for and which methods to use.

Let me give you a couple of examples of what my current strategy is. I've only been doing this a week but I decided to write primarily for Associated Content. I saw many good things said about them. Right now I give them exclusive rights and have written about 10 articles, most are still under review and a couple have been published. I know this is way to early in the game for me to even have a strategy but I have to start somewhere. I believe I can produce 2 to 3 quality articles a day on different subjects. My expertise is more about current events but I know how to make an article last for a while by being general about the subject.

In your opinion, should I not give AC exclusive rights and then spread the articles around to other sites, or should I just write one a day for AC and put the other 2 on another or a few sites?

Which would be a more lucrative strategy? What do you think of suite101? HubPages?

Stevefon2004

Nerd Writer Mom said...

Sorry for the delay in replying - taxes called!

Pretty much every opinion there is, is out on the Web. With enough searching, they all crop up. :)

I don't know AC's current terms since I haven't written for them in forever, so I can't offer you advice about what rights to sell.

But I definitely don't think you should just write for AC. Not just to diversify - although it's super-important to do that - but because some types of articles are best monetized at some sites, others at different sites. And all of the legit ones are pretty much equally excellent if you have the right articles up there. Revenue share payment terms are often couched in mystery, but to be honest I've found that for me, most article sites earn at about the same rate.

If I were starting out now, I'd put up 20 articles each at at least 3 paying article sites, then wait at least three months for them to mature and compare them. But that strategy works best as a semi-controlled experiment only when you know how to optimize an article for revenue share.

Of course, that's not how I actually started. I did enough research to try to figure out if each business model was a scam, then just plunged in and tried 'em. In the first 6 months, I must have written a hundred articles for Demand Studios, 30 for Textbroker, 100 or so for eHow, and 15ish for Constant-Content. I learned a lot.

One thing you learn by experience is how to tell if a site is worth writing for. It's a personal decision because it depends on how much time you take to write - and post - an article, which, no matter what other people say, you can't know until you've posted several for the site. It also depends on whether the people who make up "your market" are reading articles on that site. Different sites have different demographics.

Hope that helps. Good luck and keep us posted!

Anonymous said...

Hey Nerd Writer Mom,

I noticed that demand studios requires a resume. Since I am not a writer by profession, what can I do to get accepted there?

stevefon2004

Nerd Writer Mom said...

Stevefon2004,

I'm glad you ask, because as I understand it, people who apply and get turned away don't get another shot - so you've got to get it right the first time!

With the disclaimer that I'm not on the hiring review team for DS, I can offer a few ideas that I think would help.

Resumes can be targeted to be writing-focused. I suggest that in your resume you highlight any writing experience you DO have. For example, you can point out the op/ed writing you've done, and for what publications. Also include any degrees or professional qualifications you have, even if not writing related. In the section on hobbies and interests, or your objectives statement, include something about your interest in freelance writing and your goals.

I suspect that the real make-or-break part of your application will come from your writing sample. For that, the best advice I have for you is to read a bunch of DS-produced articles and do your sample/samples in that style.

To read DS articles:
go to eHow
choose one of the Browse Articles categories for which you're likely to write
choose a subcategory
on the left blue bar choose "eHow professional."

The results that come up will show a bunch of articles that are DS titles that have been written by DS writers. Study those and write a writing sample true to the style, voice, and word count. Edit it for errors, then edit it again. If you have doubts about whether it's good enough, ask someone with English know-how to look at it (after showing them an example of the kind of article it's supposed to be) and tell them to be viciously critical. Then after one last edit, submit!

If anything I suggest contradicts what's in their application submission guidelines, though, go with that. A lot can have changed in the year and a half since I applied.

Best of luck! I'm excited for you! Let us know what happens...

Anonymous said...

Hey Nerdwriter Mom,

I am on my way to being an online writer I think. I've got about 12 articles on AC, most of them published and 2 on CC, one of them published.

I am still a bit confused as to how I promote them. I got accounts on Reddit, Stumbleupon and propeller and placed the URL's in there.

I got turned down for Demand Studios but I will reapply with better articles with another email address.

Any advice on how I can promote the stuff as writing seems to be the easiest thing to do and takes up the least time.

Getting published is exciting but if I don't get business out of it I'll lose motivation (hopefully not).

How many articles do you write per day/week and do you spread them around a lot or stay on just a few sites?

I also signed up for ehow and hubpages but haven't submitted there yet.

You have been very helpful so far so I would appreciate any more advice. I'm trying to maximize my time doing this and realize that promotion is very time consuming.

Thanks Again

Stevefon2004

Nerd Writer Mom said...

Hi Stevefon2004,

Can you apply twice to DS? I thought you couldn't. But don't forget Textbroker if you can't get accepted by Demand Studios.

As for promoting articles, I don't promote my articles at all, so I can't advise you there. I do think that if you need to promote the articles to make money off of them, you're not going to make enough money to justify the effort.

In my view, the real opportunity the Internet offers is NOT that of becoming popular through self-promotion - it's one of automation and scale. Through SEO, you can match many, many interested people with the information they seek. Beginners especially will waste a lot of time on promotion when it really doesn't help at all - or only helps those who do it very strategically and with discretion.

If I were you, I'd drop the promotion efforts for now and focus on learning SEO and on how to write articles that are truly useful to people. Expect this to take six months at least, learning on your own. Think of it as time spent training in a new career. :)

Anonymous said...

About Hubpages revenue split 60/40. I made an experiment which really puzzled me: I published a few articles on hubpages. In 3 months I had one click on Google adsense ad which showed my earnings at $0.12 for this click. I was surprised that it was so low… My friend suggested another website (cannot tell you the name of this site just yet) which also has adsense ad share option. I posted a few articles on this site and soon got an adsense ad click. I checked how much this click earned me – and it was $1.16. More than a dollar difference between Hubpages and this site I used for the same type of ad clicked! This made me wondering why the same type of ad on Hubpages paid so much lower. How do they manage to do it? Any suggestions? Anyone had similar comparative experience?

Nerd Writer Mom said...

Anonymous,

Thanks for joining the discussion. What you noticed is completely normal and happens all the time - even when comparing articles posted on the same site!

Sample size is seriously important here. When the number of articles being compared is so small, you can't get any really useful results - or in statistics parlance, "statistically significant" results. The advantage of statistically significant results is that you can make predictions about what articles will do well, where, when, etc. With just a few articles to compare, any results you get won't allow you to make even vaguely accurate predictions over the long term, especially if you're fairly new to Web article writing.

Plus remember that there are simply too many factors that cause variations in earnings - such as SEO, the topics being too different, the topics being too similar, optimal layouts for different websites (on HubPages, earning depends largely on how you lay out your articles), interest-based ads, day of week, daily Google algorithm changes, etc.

I know it can be very confusing. To understand more factors that affect earnings, see my post at http://nerdwriter.blogspot.com/2010/03/20-non-seo-reasons-earnings-go-up-down.html.

Anyway, to do a real comparison of article performance at different websites is a major challenge, because there is no way to control for the myriad factors that affect article performance. 50 articles on each site would give you a far better comparison; 100 would be better, and so on.

For what it's worth, I can tell you in my experience (with over 400 revenue sharing articles) that if you do good SEO and write easy-to-read articles that people find truly useful, the differences between the major article sites tend to vanish. These days, I earn about the same wherever I publish. At first, when I was new to writing for the Web, that wasn't true.

Alex Zorach said...

I'm one of those people who thinks that Hubpages is a scam. But it has nothing to do with their revenue sharing model; it has to do with their lack of transparecy, and their use of the nofollow tag in links. If you'd be interested in reading my critique, which differs from that of most other people badmouthing the site, you can check out my review of hubpages.

Nerd Writer Mom said...

Hi Alex,

Thanks for your comment. I did read your article and yes, I'm afraid I do disagree with your conclusions, although I found them well expressed and your arguments interesting.

I agree that HubPages has pretty awful help pages - not easily navigated, and so some probably do miss the fact that not all links are dofollow. Though I think their Terms of Service does imply the nofollow links issue in oblique ways, and they talk about the nofollow thing on this page:
http://learningcenter.hubpages.com/4-1-growing-your-audience-stats-and-rankings/

You say:
"From what I've read...getting to 75 requires authoring multiple high-quality hubs, and either networking with other hubpage users or promoting your hubs on external sites, in order to drive traffic to your hubs."

Actually, that's not the case - at least, not in my experience. You do need some high quality hubs, but you don't need to promote them externally or network with other hubbers or even keep writing hubs to keep your score above 75. You just need to use the service as it's intended to be used.

Regarding your words here:

"I have no evidence of HubPages telling any outright lies; rather, the dishonesty is a lie of omission, a selective presentation of information, failing to mention certain key facts about how the site works, facts that would probably drive many users away from contributing to the site. The company is not telling the whole truth."

Philosophically, I think your perspective is sound. But I'm not sure it's what I'd call useful. Why? Well, I don't know to what entity one could NOT apply those words. Everyone does this, more or less. Omits things for their own gain, that is.

No individual who wants to persuade anyone to do anything, company who wants to make money, or organization that has a particular agenda ever reveals every technique used in trying to gain spouses, followers, friends, jobs, etc. In other words, nobody discloses all the subtleties of their "sales" technique in trying to attract people - and if they do, that itself could be considered a sales technique according to some sociological theory. On your website you mention a political agenda, and you also have a persuasive technique. Should you have to disclose it and inform people of the disadvantages of your political program? Perhaps, but I don't think so, because I think the assumption is that people and companies persuade - that's what they do.

One can, of course, argue that trying to persuade people to do something for one's own benefit is by definition immoral or unethical, but again, that's different from a scam.

I'm certainly not a lawyer, but my understanding is that a scam involves lying with an intent to profit. I frankly don't think HubPages is lying with intent to profit; that hasn't been my experience. My experience has been that HubPages is open about its policies.

I'm not sure where you're seeing HubPages claiming a major benefit of HubPages is to use the site for backlinks - I only recall marketers saying that, not HubPages staff. But whether they do or don't, I believe that every website that is crowdsourced like HubPages fails in the same way: they cast lures and disappoint some and delight others. To me it's like having a job interview and finding everyone oh-so-nice before you're hired, only to find when you start working there that the job sucks. In my mind, that's very different from saying the employment committee scammed me.

But that's a matter for every individual to decide.

Thanks again for your perspective, Alex. I'd be interested to hear what other people have to say about the matter of dofollow and nofollow links on HubPages.

Anonymous said...

Hub pages is nothing but a scam they said that I did nothing right
but I did...

Rich said...

eHow is a scam, now that they are deleting articles and making pathetic offers to purchase people's content. I was averaging $20/month with eHow but now that they closed their whole program, they made me an insulting offer of $28 for all 40 of my articles. eHow is a bunch of Nazis and I will glad REJECT their disgusting offer and publish them on other content sites. I hope Demand Studios debt explodes and that they are forced to file for Chapter 11

Pedro Pacheco said...

Hub pages is many times better than Squidoo because it each hub gets at least 4x more traffic than a lens with a similar and unique article!