100th Hub Celebration and My Advice to Hubbers
This is it, my 100th hub on HubPages. I’ve come a long way since I joined this community and I’d like to take a moment to celebrate the occasion, but also reflect and offer advice to those old and new in the community.
What have I’ve learned since my 50th Hub Confessional?
Duplicates are bad.
When I joined HubPages in November of 2008, I was writing for a different website; eHow, and really only joined another because I wanted a place that I could post my old book reviews. I had previously written a number of reviews for a website my brother created, though I could only provide so much content by myself and the site went cold after a while. What I didn’t realize was that those little red tags that said ‘duplicate’ attached to my hubs were a bad thing. Today duplicates aren’t allowed at all, but back then they were permitted to exist, but I received an invisible penalty that I didn’t really know about. So for many months I made no money on HubPages. Part of it was because I was only posting duplicates, and part of it was because nobody really wants to read book reviews. I didn’t think much of it and let my account stagnate. However, my luck took a turn for the worse and I had a falling out with eHow. Fearful that they would retain ownership of the articles I had written for them, I promptly deleted every article I had written on their website. Shortly after that my account was locked out for good. I made mistakes, but I was glad to at least have my writing. So, the only logical thing to do was take my eggs, which had fallen out of the eHow basket and put them all in the HubPages basket. Since the articles no longer existed on eHow, they did not receive the duplicate tag when posted on HubPages. For the next few days I then re-posted everything, using my original word files. Now that I actually had original, quality material, I finally started to see a rise in traffic. It wasn’t until much later, after I was consistently writing for HubPages, that I realized my duplicates were still holding me down. It was hard to delete them and see my hub number decrease, but it had to be done and I feel I emerged stronger for it. In short, don’t ever post a duplicate on HubPages. It will only hurt you.
You will get censored.
I don’t write a whole lot of controversial stuff. I’ll admit to putting the words ‘breasts’ and ‘nudity’ in the body of some of my hubs in the hopes of getting more traffic, but in my defense, it was a legitimate use of the words. It wasn’t until I posted my hub about America’s Fear of Sex and Nudity that the hammer finally dropped. I thought I was impervious to censorship because I was a decent writer and it was always pertinent to the subject matter, but this hub went too far. Though it depicted no risky pictures and was a thoughtful examination of American morals, it had one too many questionable words sprinkled throughout. The result was that HubPages disabled the Google ads in a preemptive strike to avoid Google’s wrath. At the time I was upset because the article received a lot of attention and I wasn’t making any money off of it, but in retrospect, I’m glad HubPages took the initiative. Had they not, then it would have been my problem to deal with Google’s wrath, and though I speak out against corporations, I certainly don’t want to put myself in their cross hairs. I’ll still argue that the article is entirely appropriate, but I’m not about to take on a billion dollar corporation by myself.
Quantity is everything.
Back when I first started writing HubPage-exclusive articles I was confident that my good writing would inevitably result in hundreds of dollars each month. Other than being big headed, that thought process would not serve me well in the early days. It is my opinion that making money on HubPages is based on two things; quantity and niches. I’ll talk more about niches below, but the reason quantity matters so much is because one hub can only generate so much traffic. You can do all the advertising and back linking in the world, but ultimately, what’s going to net you more traffic and more money is more hubs. Quality does matter, because HubPages will crack down on poorly written hubs, but as long as you speak in complete sentences and make a descent effort with length, then you don’t have to worry about the moderators. So, think of it this way. Let’s say you’ve written 70 hubs and you’re averaging $10 per month. Realistically, if you write another 70, you should then be making $20 per month. Those figures aren’t going to be exact, because a lot of a hub’s success is based on its subject matter, but you get the idea. The more hubs you have, the higher chance for profit. So while I was writing quality hubs when I started, I was severely lacking in terms of quantity. I think the most amount of hubs I’ve ever published in a single month is somewhere between five and ten. Considering people have taken and succeeded in the 30 hubs in 30 days challenge, I’m writing at the pace of a sleeping turtle. Part of that is my obsessive editing practices and part of it is a lack of subjects to write about. But the moral of this story is that if you’re frustrated with a lack of revenue, one thing you can check is your hub count. It is not the only contributing factor, but it is a big one.
What does it mean to find a niche and what is my niche?
I heard a lot of people talking about niches when I first started writing for HubPages. The concept made sense to me; find a subject that is lacking on the website, then start writing for it. The problem was that I wasn’t interested in doing comprehensive internet research to find the most sought after subjects. I just wanted to write what I was interested in. So I ignored the advice and went about my business. Little did I know; I had already begun to corner a niche on HubPages that I wouldn’t discover until later when consistent traffic revealed that people were searching for my articles about DAZ Studio. Since they were posted, my articles about the 3D rendering program remain at the top of both the traffic and hub score lists (for my profile). I’m convinced that most of my revenue has come from these select few articles despite having written a hundred. Unfortunately, after I discovered my niche, I had nearly exhausted my knowledge of the subject. Had I figured it out sooner, I might have broken down a number of larger articles into smaller subjects, but I’d hate to remove them now. So instead, I’m just going to try to learn more about the program and continue adding to that niche, or focus on a new niche (how to write fantasy and science fiction seems to be a popular one for my articles). My advice to new hubbers is not to do research on niches, but rather, just write what you want to write and watch your traffic. When you discover which hubs are the most popular, you will begin to see which subjects to pursue.
Reaching your first payment threshold.
It took me a long time to reach my first payout from Google. I believe it was just under a year and a half when the first check was directly deposited to my bank account. Keep in mind, my Google revenue is exclusively from HubPages, and for the first three months I was only posting duplicates intermittently. Despite knowing this I still felt like a failure. Don’t get me wrong, reaching the first payout was glorious and it affirmed what I had been doing for so long, but I’ve read a lot of success stories on HubPages where people who have been here for only a few months are pulling in $200 per month. It makes you wonder how something like that can happen. I’m sure there are a lot of reasons, and I’m sure there are a lot of people like me who struggle to reach that payout, but you generally don’t hear about them. One comes to HubPages in the hopes of making lots of money, so you read articles by people who are successful here. The unfortunate result of this is that when you see your own revenue, you start to feel like you’re doing something wrong. The important thing to remember here is; don’t give up. It will come eventually. If you obey the rules and keep writing, you will reach that threshold. Then, once you do reach it, take comfort in the fact that the next one after that will be reached faster, then the next after that will be even faster. Sure, there are some great success stories here, but just because your success isn’t as fast as theirs, doesn’t mean you can’t still have a lucrative career with HubPages.
Accolades and HubScore (under 50K).
It’s a good feeling when you get a new accolade on HubPages, or when you see your user HubScore climb higher. It makes you feel like you’re a good writer and contributing quality content to the website. However, another thing I’ve learned is that your HubScore and accolades have nothing to do with traffic or revenue. It’s true that traffic can effect your HubScore or contribute to certain accolades, but despite having multiple accolades and a consistently high HubScore (90s) I still have under 50,000 total page views and make just barely over $10 per month (as of the writing of this hub). So, even though I have a sense of pride in the work I’ve contributed, it really doesn’t seem to be helping me monetarily. I’m not particularly upset by this, I don’t feel entitled to anything, but I do find it confusing that someone could be highly regarded as a good writer/contributor, but actually be performing very poorly in terms of traffic and revenue. So, while I would argue that accolades and HubScore are fun and flattering to get, they really don’t help you make money.
Back linking is another one of those pieces of advice I wish I had taken more seriously in the beginning. Basically, what you want to do is find a website that has similar subject matter to your hubs, then find a way to share your hubs on that site. Whether it’s a forum, blog, tutorial page, or whatever, if you can get your hubs there, you can get them noticed by the right people. My biggest success story was posting my graphic design hubs on Renderosity’s tutorial page. Each tutorial must be submitted for review, but offsite articles are permitted. While the process isn’t particularly fast, the resulting traffic I’ve gotten from them has been very helpful. I haven’t found a website to replicate that success, but I encourage everyone to try. Relying solely on HubPage and Google traffic will be a very slow uphill battle.
Reaching 100 hub score.
On 3/29/2011 I decided to check my HubPage profile on a lark. I was on vacation at the time and was just killing time before I went to sleep. When I logged in to check my traffic, I saw it; my user HubScore was a perfect 100. Shocked by this development, I checked out the users page to see where I ranked and discovered myself at number 12 on the list (out of 206,000). Until that point I had been averaging a 94-96 every day, so to see such a jump was a great feeling. Considering it was the same day my first payout was deposited into my bank account, it was pretty surreal. I have no idea if I’ve reached 100 again, since I’m not always online, but I’ll always remember that moment. (I took screenshots as proof.) I bring this up because it is probably my proudest moment so far since joining HubPages, but also because I feel that it is important for any writer to receive confirmation that what they’re doing with their lives is worth while. Since I’ve been writing the same book for the last seven years (that very few people have ever seen) it’s easy to get the feeling that I’m wasting my time as a writer. The perfect HubScore was like a virtual thumbs up that told me, and everyone else, that I was on the right path. Maybe other people don’t see it that way, but I did. And now, as I reach my 100th hub milestone, I feel like I’m on the right path. It’s slow and riddled with potholes, but dang it; I’m going to make it to the end. Just remember; never give up and, as always, keep writing.
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