Ethics of Writing a Sales Hub

Are you writing for your readers or for yourself?

On HubPages we can rougly put all hubs into several categories: informational hubs and sales hubs, also known as product hubs, and a category with all miscellaneous hubs such as poems. I want to talk about the second category today, namely sales hubs. These type of hubs discuss a single product or multiple products by giving information, the pros and cons and the price. The text is always accompanied by Amazon ads in the hope of getting the reader to buy the product.

What is wrong with that? In principle there is nothing wrong with that. If you can genuinely help people with making a choice for a particular product then that's fine. But there is a fine line between writing a helpful sales hub and a hub that purely stems from your own greed. Many sales hubs are not an effort to help the reader but rather to help the writer's bank account.

Source

When you write a sales hub, you should provide a service to those who read it. Have you made a genuine effort to analyze and review this product or are you spamming as many "reviews" as you can to earn cash? When you need more info on a product that you want to buy, would you want to read something like you've written?

Perhaps your ethics are not as strong as mine. Perhaps you feel that anything goes as long as you get your cash. I think such an attitude will not get you far in life. Do you even care about the people who read your "reviews" or do they merely serve as clickers and buyers to get your money from Amazon?

How to spot a dishonest sales hub writer

  • Many similar "reviews" that have exactly the same structure but with product names substituted.
  • Fake testimonials that cannot be traced to an existing online shopping website, such as Amazon.
  • Every sentence contains laudatory words like amazing, great, really nice, brilliant, et cetera. Was it made by God himself or what?

The sad part is that it didn't take long to compile this list. Just hopping some hubs here on HubPages is enough to see clear examples of this type of hubs.

The ethical way to write sales hubs

Take the time to review and discuss the specifications of a product rather than stating the obvious facts. Summarize real people's opinions rather than claiming every company in the world delivers flawless products. If you cannot write from personal experience with a product, make an extra effort to make sure your comments are accurate.

I have seen some Hubbers here on HubPages who indeed make an effort to descibe a product and compare it to similar products on the market. This does not have to take long if you are familiar with the type of products that you are reviewing.

I know you have to be positive about a product in order to get a reader to buy it or at least to click your Amazon ad. I get that. But at least be honest: if a product has a serious flaw that can detract from a user's experience, mention it upfront and clearly. Focus on the good things of a product and provide all the information a reader needs to decide whether it is the right product for him / her. Yes, as you can see this takes more effort than what you are currently doing. But somewhere deep down you know I'm describing the right way to earn money online with review articles.

Let me be very clear that I am not against sales or product hubs. If I decide to venture into writing sales hubs, I'll be very careful to provide a genuinely helpful article to my readers. I also think these type of reviews and comparisons can earn me more money than crappy reviews but I do not have any empirical data to substantiate this claim. I will earn money online but I will do it in such a way that I can honestly look anyone in the eyes when confronted with my work. There is no reason why you cannot do the same.

This article was written by Simeon Visser. I am earning money online by writing here at HubPages.com. Would you like to earn money online as well? Read the success stories and sign up today to get started!

More by this Author


Comments 34 comments

Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

Wesman Todd Shaw 5 years ago from Kaufman, Texas

I feel the same way as you do about this. I'm amazed though, at just how many different products I've got around the house that I do love, and should write a product hub for. What I struggle with is knowing that even though I know next to nothing about guns. . . .that the articles that I've wrote about the firearms in the house probably generate more cash than my acoustic guitar hubs. . . .which I really do know a whole lot about.

Now, I don't have to actually own all of the guitars that I talk about to write great hubs full of good info about them. . . .but the temptation is to write more hubs about guns that I really DON'T know much about, but I know that those will get huge traffic despite my faked expertise. . . . .


simeonvisser profile image

simeonvisser 5 years ago Author

@Wesman Todd Shaw: I see your point, it's an ethical decision really. I think you can write quality sales hubs even if you have not used the products but you need to be familiar with the type of product. For example, I think I can write reviews of laptops and notebooks by looking at specifications, existing reviews and opinions because I'm familiar with computer technology.

If you are making an effort to find all the information you can about firearms then I think you can write quality hubs. And then there is no reason to feel bad about it because you can draw from your experience with firearms. If many people complain about the recoil of a gun then you can relate to that and write about it.

Ask yourself: do I know enough about guns that I can sensibly write about firearms I have not used? If you feel you can help people by writing about firearms then go for it, even if you know more about guitars. You may need to do more research than if you had written about guitars but that's just the efforts you need to make for writing the hub.


psychicdog.net profile image

psychicdog.net 5 years ago

I dont honestly think people who are hoping for a quick buck actually do very well anyway so their results are pretty punishing. But I dont know if you can blame anyone who lives in HOPE and tries to make a quick buck albeit with rather clumsy sales pitches especially since life can be pretty damn harsh and many would like to win a jackpot to escape their lot. When I started online I found all these offers that sounded like they could be genuine. I didn't know, I hardly understood what I was getting into/being told but I gave things a go. Sales pitches sounded convincing but it takes a while (and a lot of money) to find out it is very different to offline/opening a shop with what people want anyway. You just do your dough with a lot of the stuff online. But if I'd never tried I would never have known. I agree with you, it's better to do a SERVICE to your readers rather than just a money grab. But writing probably does not come that easily to the majority and it's a hard sales road - extremely time-consuming and poor results though passive income and progressively less time-consuming so we're told.


simeonvisser profile image

simeonvisser 5 years ago Author

I've read that our society also promotes this: many people want results but they don't want to put in the efforts.

We want to win the lottery because that is easier than founding a company.

We want to get rich quick rather than working hard.

We want to lose weight fast rather than change our lifestyle.

We want it all without the efforts.

Getting results takes time and effort. As soon as you realize that you alone are responsible for what you get in life, you will take action. But until then, you will keep looking for shortcuts in life. That is where this writing behaviour stems from.


IdeaMorphist profile image

IdeaMorphist 5 years ago from Chicagoland

I love the philosophy of morals. I have worked in sales often and each time I enter loving the product and exit feeling horrible about what I had been selling people


psychicdog.net profile image

psychicdog.net 5 years ago

You make shortcuts sound like a bad thing but I'm not sure that is always the case - it is also about efficiency - invest this much time and effort in A might get you $100/hr, invest it in B, might get you $200/hr for example. You might be putting a lot of effort into A and think you are working hard but are you working smart doing A instead of B? Ideally you also would want to weigh up what you like doing/what is ethical and hope there is something to be made from that!


simeonvisser profile image

simeonvisser 5 years ago Author

@IdeaMorphist:

Yes, sales people sometimes have shady morals when selling stuff to people. The more they sell, the more they earn themselves and that sometimes conflicts with helping your customers.

@psychicdog.net:

Taking shortcuts is not a bad think but you must know the rules before you break them. In this case you must know what high quality content is before you can lower your standards. I would personally feel bad if I made more money by scamming people than when I would actually help them. I want to earn money in an ethical way and that's what this hub advocates.

We should indeed think about working smart and about what is ethical. I wish people would do that when writing online content. If you write mediocre content (but not totally crappy content) and you earn less because of that, I'm fine with that. In the end I think we are rewarded for the quality of our efforts.


Sunnyglitter profile image

Sunnyglitter 5 years ago from Cyberspace

I'm big on ethics, and I've written a few sales hubs. I'll keep your article in mind.


simeonvisser profile image

simeonvisser 5 years ago Author

@Sunnyglitter: Thanks, you're doing your readers a great favor :)


wilderness profile image

wilderness 5 years ago from Boise, Idaho

I am beginning to write a few sales hubs and finding it harder than expected, mostly because of the ethical ramifications. I refuse to write a review about something I know little about, merely looking at reviews from others and compiling them. At most I might point out that reviews are generally good or bad.

Rather I will research the product line and point out options and features (or lack thereof) that might be important to the reader. I may make general observations about appropriate use that the reader might not think of. It is up to the reader to evaluate the actual product and manufacturer they choose - I merely make observations and compile a convenient list of similar products for their perusal.

I have done reviews, but only on products that I use and like or dislike and both views are reported. In these cases I may use terms like "great", "wonderful" or such, but without actual experience I shy away from such language. I also make it clear that observations are from personal use.


simeonvisser profile image

simeonvisser 5 years ago Author

@wilderness: You are a very ethical sales hub writer, I like that! Thanks for sharing with us how you approach these type of hubs.


tinaweha profile image

tinaweha 5 years ago from Seattle (and the world)

I have just joined hubpages about a week ago (even though it says I've been here for 5 months). However, I have seen a lot of those spammy-looking, churned articles (all over the web) that you describe.

I've been writing on another website for a while and I've earned a small following by being HONEST and giving people KNOWLEDGE.

One writer (on this site and the other site) is a good example of writer BS...however, she doesn't say anything duplicitous because she says nothing.

Spam is spam. Knowledge and honesty will get you much further in life than spam.

Great article SimeonVisser. I wish I had written it. It's a well-written politically-worded analysis of a very real problem.


simeonvisser profile image

simeonvisser 5 years ago Author

@tinaweha: Yes, I think honesty and truly informing people will get you a lot further than spamming. People will know when they get tricked.

I even think they just want their spam article to be out there to attract views. Even if readers don't read the review, the readers are still exposed to the ads and they might click on them anyway. That's how the "review authors" make their money.


Treasuresofheaven profile image

Treasuresofheaven 5 years ago from Michigan

This is an important topic. Sellers and buyers both need to be aware!


prasetio30 profile image

prasetio30 5 years ago from malang-indonesia

Very inspiring hub and I learn much from you. I never thought about this before. This is a road to success. Actually there are many options in HP we can do. Just never give up and do the best. We must promised to our heart. Thank you very much. Happy New Year!

Blessing and hugs,


simeonvisser profile image

simeonvisser 5 years ago Author

@Treasuresofheaven: Yep! :)

@prasetio30: Happy New Year to you too. Just follow your heart and stay on the road to success :)


karenfreemansmith profile image

karenfreemansmith 5 years ago from Oregon

Thanks for writing this article. I've been wondering about those sales hubs and if I should be writing them or not. I think besides the ethical concerns, buyers/readers are smarter than most people give them credit for. A good review is likely to make more money in the long run because of that. Sooner or later I expect Google to get smart enough to recognize the difference too.


simeonvisser profile image

simeonvisser 5 years ago Author

@karenfreemansmith: Yes, Google gets smarter every day. It has access to a lot of data so someday it should be able to detect all these very similar reviews as well easily. High quality content is now and will always be the key to success.


dablufox profile image

dablufox 5 years ago from Australia

I think this is a very important topic.

Blatant spammers and unethical marketers populate Hubpages like the T Virus.

What these cockroaches don't realise is that their selfish sales copy can be spotted a mile away!

My pet hate is the 350 word hub with 56 Amazon products on it.

What these jungle monkeys don't realise is that having so many products on your hubpage overwhelms the reader to the point where they start to have an anxiety attack.

At which point they just click off.

Also any link juice they provide in the way of promotion or backlinking gets diluted over way too many unrelated links which makes their hubpage an impotent, unrelated mess.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not against selling, but the key is to be sincere in trying to help the consumer or at the very least try and faint sincerity.

I have learned that if you want to focus on making money on hubpages you really have to do your research, find products of superior customer value which have flown under the competition radar and learn about that product's niche, inside out.

If you have some really cool and useful information about a product's niche people will be that much more likely to purchase from your links as you become an authority source, 'people aren't stupid'!

If you are just trying to make a buck selling rubber dog s&*t, people resent the fact that your basically assuming their stupid and there is no way they will purchase from your hub.

It's one thing that I have learned from a really kewl internet marketer called Frank Kern is that....

if you offer something of real value for 'nothing', most people feel the need to give something back!

A very powerful concept.

But what really takes the cake is that Amazon is the least profitable avenue to take to make money on Hubpages.

This is because a buyer has to purchase the product from your link on the same day.

If they buy in a day or two and navigate directly to Amazon you don't get didly squat!

Also many browser setting have cookies disabled which makes tracking for Amazon all but impossible, once again didly squat commissions.

The best way to make money from Hubs is basically from adsense in my opinion and from doing thorough keyword research identify high traffic/low competition keywords and having great high value content that leaves your audience wanting more.

Anyway thanks for bringing up this topic, it has been much needed.

Cheers on a great hubpage!


simeonvisser profile image

simeonvisser 5 years ago Author

@dablufox: Thanks for your opinion, it is indeed important. I think Amazon is still a nice way to earn money but most of the money comes from Google AdSense for many here.

I hope this hub encourages some people to indeed do the research that you suggest and to really help people by writing about products in a certain niche.


manjubose5 profile image

manjubose5 5 years ago

I honor your philosophy. I agree with you, product based hubs should have good information. I am among those who love writing good hubs not for earning only. Though my writing skill is not so strong, but try to put in my best effort to make it better.

I have two grand children, so I have more interest in baby related topics and started creating websites on baby topics. I love writing on Hubpages because of its Fun and Magic.

However, I have learnt many things in 2010 from hub elites and encouraging hub friends. Still I'm learning and sure that your other related hubs will be helpful for me.

Happy New Year.


simeonvisser profile image

simeonvisser 5 years ago Author

@manjubose5: Happy New Year! Your writing skills will get better, in particular if you love to write good hubs not just for the money.


manjubose5 profile image

manjubose5 5 years ago

Thanks simeonvisser. May need your guidance and hope you will cooperate.


simeonvisser profile image

simeonvisser 5 years ago Author

@manjubose5: If you have any questions just ask although I should say there are far more experienced people here on HubPages than myself at the moment. I'm not an expert in making money online yet but I can try to answer questions.


manjubose5 profile image

manjubose5 5 years ago

Don't worry. I'm not going to ask about money making.


FCEtier profile image

FCEtier 5 years ago from Cold Mountain

I enjoy writing real reviews for books, movies,and music.

When I put one of them on Hubpages, I put links to Amazon. If I make a sale, fine, but I'm not writing to make sales. It's not too hard to tell when someone is trying to sell you, especially a rookie.


simeonvisser profile image

simeonvisser 5 years ago Author

@manjubose5; Ok.

@FCEtier: A review that obviously lacks quality won't fool most people anyway. When your reviews are real then you cannot really go wrong as a reviewer. It's still nice to get an extra sale if a reader genuinely wants the product after reading your review.


GmaGoldie profile image

GmaGoldie 5 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin

Very well written. I believe only honesty sells today - people are too smart to be "sold". I love the Amazon capsules because they provide information.

Yes, I too, started out banning Amazon and then after reading awhile I realized the service of the information.

I love to read so just adding capsules with books I think is helpful.

When I write for fitness I am frustrated because allot of great equipment is not on eBay or Amazon and I wish to show the item and the price.

Information about value is also about price and these sales capsules provide that much needed information.

Great Hub - great information and thought provoking - we all need to be reminded of the real focus here - to serve. Thank you!


simeonvisser profile image

simeonvisser 5 years ago Author

@GmaGoldie: I agree with you that a reminder of our purpose here never hurts. Thanks for sharing your experience on writing product related information in hubs. Take care!


elayne001 profile image

elayne001 5 years ago from Rocky Mountains

Very interesting article. I have never been a great salesperson because I am usually selling something I am not totally sold on. I think you do have to have plenty of experience with a product to really be able to give a convincing testimony about it. That is why I haven't written too many sales hubs yet. Thanks for the thought provoking hub.


simeonvisser profile image

simeonvisser 5 years ago Author

@elayne001: Thanks for your comment, I haven't written any sales hubs yet because I can't really come up with a recent product that I could convincingly sell. For now I will focus on AdSense rather than Amazon although the time may come that I'll give it a go.


Written By Jim profile image

Written By Jim 5 years ago from The Heartland

You make some very good points, and thank you for taking the time to stress quality. Taking the time to honestly review a product and provide useful information (both the good points as well as the bad) should be the goal of anyone who sets out to write product reviews.

I think wilderness sets out a reasonable path to follow when writing such hubs. Research is the key. Point out both the high and the low points, and how the consumer will benefit from using the product. Provide something useful.

I think people sometimes just get in too much of a hurry to make a quick fortune online. They read some of the Amazon or Ebay earnings from some of their fellow Hubbers, and think "easy money", not realizing there is a tremendous amount of work involved. Throwing up a quick "review" Hub and hope the traffic flows is probably not sustainable path to success.

If you need proof that quality sells, take a look at one of my favorite review sites, dpreview.com. They made their mark by writing well written, extremely detailed reviews of the latest digital cameras and photographic equipment.

Most of their reviews take up 15 - 20 pages and cover every facet and feature of the product in question. To call their average review "In-depth" would be an understatement. Comprehensive would be more apt.

Now search Google for almost any digital camera. Chances are, their review will be listed on the first page, most often in the top 3 or 4 results. Oh, and they are now owned by Amazon. Imagine how much taking the time to write quality reviews has paid off for the owners.

I think the lesson we can all learn from this is to not take shortcuts. You undercut your potential and your reputation when you do. Quality does matter.

Thanks again for this Hub. Some good thoughts here.


simeonvisser profile image

simeonvisser 5 years ago Author

Thanks for your elaborate response, you make good points and you've given a good example of a website with high quality reviews. Delivering quality takes time and effort and both my hub and your comments agree on that. Many people try to take shortcuts but that's indeed not the way to go. Thanks again for sharing your personal insights.


Ibrahim K. Shafin profile image

Ibrahim K. Shafin 5 years ago from Dhaka, Bangladesh & Washington DC, USA

Very nice, useful hub. I like the style too! So, Im your new follower :)

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working