How to Write a Hub: A good hubscore starts with caring for your reader

Seth Godin calls a "Purple Cow" an experience that is so remarkable people can't help but talk about it, like seeing a purple cow. You should write like that.
Seth Godin calls a "Purple Cow" an experience that is so remarkable people can't help but talk about it, like seeing a purple cow. You should write like that.

I recently read a hub by Rebecca E that discussed hubscores. She was evaluating and giving advice on strategies on how to make hubs that score well. The advice she gave is awesome and anyone who wants to do well on HP needs to read her hub.

The only reason I am writing this as an addition to her awesome work is that, she mentioned something that I think needs to be expanded on more than even her careful work covered. It has to do with quality of writing, but has nothing to do with grammar and spelling—even though that’s crucial too.

The thing she hits on about quality is “quality content.” But what is quality content? I think there is actually some debate about that. I think some people don’t know what that means. So, as someone who makes almost no money at all on HP, but who has high scoring hubs and who even spends some time in the 100 zone regularly, I’m going to give you advice about how to do well on hubpages without making money. How to get a high score that is NOT monetized, that is NOT back-linked, that is NOT SEO anything at all.

If you take the advice I am about to give you and add it to the advice that Rebecca E gives, and that the marketing guys/gals give, you will be a freaking monster of HubPages. They’ll have to make extra numbers over 100 to score your stuff. So, that said, here goes:

You have to care.

John Gardner has a GREAT book on this

You have to care about what you write. It has to matter. But, it’s not that simple. What it really means is that you have to care about your reader. You have to offer them something of value. There has to be something in it that is genuine.

Seth Godin is a marketing guru and he talks about a thing he calls a "Purple Cow." He's talking about the buying experience for businesses, but I think the idea translates very well, at least in part, to writing. In short, the Purple Cow is the concept that what you do for your customer OR for your reader is to provide an experience that is so unique and cool that they can't help but talk about it later, can't help think about it. The idea being that if you were walking by a field and saw some regular cows, you wouldn't think anything of it. But if there was a purple cow in the field, you'd be telling people later on. You would make a point of saying, "Wow, I saw a purple cow today!"

Writing hubs needs a bit of purple cow. It doesn't matter so much what that is in particular, but it just means that you have to put effort into writing it, try to make it as interesting and memorable as you can. It means you have to care about what you write because you care about giving your reader something good. And it's not just Seth Godin saying it.

I’ve spent the better part of a decade (and thousands of dollars) working on a graduate degree in writing. I have read so many amazing, deep, brilliant, famous, historical writers. I’ve studied them, discussed them, been preached to about them by other brilliant and famous writers. I’ve totally analyzed writing as literature and art.

I’ve also spent twenty some years in sales and marketing. I’m a professional marketing writer. I get sent to seminars and stuff, heard some amazing, charismatic speakers. I read the books. People way smarter than me.

And guess what. The great writers and the great marketers ALL say the same thing. You have to CARE about your reader.

When you write, you have to be honest. You can’t just puke out some crap about some product. You can’t just regurgitate some specs you pulled off their corporate website and call it a hub.

I mean, you can, but, just so you know, if you puke in a bowl and call it pudding, nobody is going to believe you because, even if it looks like pudding, it still stinks.

That’s why crap hubs get crap scores.

You have to care.

Seth Godin is a marketing writer (Wallstreet Journal Best Seller) who writes about making the buying experience more important than the pitch

It doesn’t even matter what you write. If you care about it, you will get traffic. Here’s a perfect example. I wrote about how the term “bad rap” is spelled “rap” and not “wrap.” I was annoyed one day, had a little grammar spasm, and went to work writing a hub about that totally boring, worthless, non-monetized, lame topic. Who even cares about that topic?

Me. I care. I’m a geek. I like English. So, I wrote it because it mattered to me. I knew I would never make a dime on it. I wrote it because it mattered to me that at least someone, ME, said something about people writing “bad wrap.”

Guess what. I get about 130 views a day on that.

There’s no videos of cool stuff. No linking strategies. No nothing. I just put what mattered on there. Apparently, that mattered. I've had similar luck on hubs about spelling college degree names and even one about lighting an office of all ungodly and boring topics. But they get traffic for some reason, and the only reason I can think of for it is because I believe people can tell I cared about it when I wrote. (It's funny, the bad rap hub actually gets comments of people being all, "Dude, wtf? Why do you care so much about this?" I just smile and approve the comments. They read it, after all. :)

So, yeah. You have to care. You have to be passionate about what you write, like Rebecca E. says. It’s true. If you care, if you pour yourself into it (and then edit and clean it up,… even do your SEO marketing thing after…) it will work. But you have to care when you write it.

You want people to read it, you want them to spend their time (and money) on what you have to say. That’s asking a lot if you think about it. So respect them. And they will show up. So will your hubscore.

Just because he's so interesting... here he is:

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Comments 134 comments

Cagsil profile image

Cagsil 6 years ago from USA or America

Awesome Hub! Great job! I love the advice. And is a little ironic in a way, considering the hub I just put out, while you were writing this one. LOL! Thank you very much.

Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 6 years ago from Kyle, Scotland

Greetings SB. I agree. I've never written a hub to chase clicks or cash. I'll maybe start doing that if the day job dries up. But I have several out there that sit in the high 80s and 90s and occasionally touch the ton, and what is most gratifying is that the readers they attract often thank me directly for having written them. That counts for a lot.

mythbuster profile image

mythbuster 6 years ago from Utopia, Oz, You Decide

Hey geek, nice hub........ oops I meant, Hey Shadesbreath, I like this hub. Nice reminders to also put yourself in the mind of your readers so you can put out some quality text! Great stuff for 30min challenge.

Pandoras Box profile image

Pandoras Box 6 years ago from A Seemingly Chaotic World

More great advice. Point well taken.

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wordscribe41 6 years ago

Excellent advice, something I attempt to conquer with each hub. I do consider it my moral obligation to be honest, forthright, and to produce quality work. Very well done, Shades. Rated UP!

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Audrevea 6 years ago

Agree totally.

(You should guest post on Copyblogger - this is the kind of stuff their audience LOVES).

It's true that interesting, useful content will bring readers. There's kind of a tail end also that even large audiences that aren't the clicky type (not going to make you ad revenue) might be able to monetised in other ways.

I'm so jealous of the 'puke in a bowl' line! BTW - I almost linked the same books and mentioned Godin but I ran short on time. We were sharing the one headspace today :)

Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 6 years ago from California Author

Yeah, I noticed that too, Audrevea. I'll probably go back and edit in a bit more about Godin, and maybe some stuff from John Gardener and T.S. Eliot. I'm glad to meet a kindred spirit when it comes to content. So many just don't care.

Buffoon profile image

Buffoon 6 years ago

I'm after the clicks (rather unsuccessfully thus far) and some pennies (not bad for now) and I can only agree with you: all my 5 hubs to date deal with stuff I "care" about. I mean, I wouldn't kill for it, you know, but then I'd never pretend to spit in a bowl and hope that people would mistake it for soup. So I think you're right, caring about what one shares is an important ingredient.

Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 6 years ago from California Author

Wait, you don't count a bowl of spit as soup? What if you added asparagus and heated it up? I think you may be being too hard on yourself.


Thanks for reading, and comments. :)

Christoph Reilly profile image

Christoph Reilly 6 years ago from St. Louis

Hey Shadesbreath. Um...isn't this against HubPages policy? Well, I have to agree, and to restate what Paraglider didn't say, "I never wrote to chase clicks, but to chase chicks." I'm just sayin'. Hope you are well.

Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 6 years ago from TEXAS

One of the best pieces of advice I can imagine. It's like the good old adage, "people don't care how much you know till they know how much you care." - People like good writing technique - but not unless it SAYS something of value and if the writer doesn't value it - how could they? And for sure - if the writer is passionate about it - it will communicate as having value even if the readers hadn't fully considered it before.

You're one of my hub heroes!! Places you up there with Miss Carstarphen, my 4th grade English teacher who managed to instill an UNDERSTANDING of grammar in her students - painlessly! :)

BTW - Emily Dickinson was the bad influence who started me using dashes so often.

Jewels profile image

Jewels 6 years ago from Australia

Every hub I've written has a piece of me in it, that makes a good minestrone soup. The cash pay is lousy but the people pay is amazing - that's why I keep popping back here. Nice to read you again Shades.

EnLydia Listener 6 years ago

I like to read the stuff that shows the caring...I thought about what to do with hubs that people stop reading...should I delete them because they will bring down my score?, I won't...because these hubs represent things I care about...and that gives them value. and someday people who will need that information (maybe only one person) will have them there to read. So I care...maybe for one person...and not for the money or my hub score.

ilmdamaily profile image

ilmdamaily 6 years ago from A forgotten corner of a dying empire. OK, it's Australia :-)

Fantastic and timely advice Shade - very well delivered. The quality of the hub - aside from being an effect of your talent and training, is a product of your obvious care for us as readers - Thank you!

lorlie6 profile image

lorlie6 6 years ago from Bishop, Ca

Thanks so much for this 30 minute/1 hub powerhouse of a hub! I also read Rebecca E. and find myself amazed at her business sense as well as her devotion to quality writing. You have put these qualities together beautifully under a canopy of caring.


De Greek profile image

De Greek 6 years ago from UK

Well, I am going to take advantage of that decade you invested and the money you have spent in order to shamelessly learn from that overall investment.

One proviso, though. When the professionals talk of caring for your reader during those marketing seminars , they usually mean "your client". I believe in caring for the reader, but not in order to sell him/her anything, but just to share a thought and possibly provoke a discussion :-)

jayjay40 profile image

jayjay40 6 years ago from Bristol England

You are So right, writing is passion. Great hub

Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 6 years ago from California Author

Wow, thanks for all the nice comments all (I'd be polite and respond to each, but... I just woke up (god, does my head hurt). I had to come down here quickly and reread what I wrote. Given the ... uh... quantity of refreshments I had last night, there was no telling what this could have looked like. Turns out, not too horrible. A tweak here and there, but for 30 minutes, well worth it. I was afraid that the irony of writing a hub about having to care about your reader in a half an hour was going to be, well, ironic.

And, De Greek, I think you are right to an extent about the marketing guys. But, the really good ones are actually saying the same thing as the lit guys, the only difference is a lit guy says, "Care and they will see," a marketing guys says, "Care and they will see, and buy."

Stan Fletcher profile image

Stan Fletcher 6 years ago from Nashville, TN

Shades - Not sure if this has anything to do with anything, but I've actually seen a purple cow.

Great hub, man. I'm always amazed at some of the crap I see on here that's barely readable.....and they have high-90's hubscores.

Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 6 years ago from California Author

Stan, that only goes to prove Godin's point, because, there you are, talking about it. :D

And yeah, hubscoring is an enigma.

Shirley Anderson profile image

Shirley Anderson 6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

Great message, Shades! There are definitely times when I need reminding about caring, usually at times when I've been writing about the same thing too long and almost can't take it anymore.

As always a very enjoyable read and I appreciate the writing reality check.

Rebecca E. profile image

Rebecca E. 6 years ago from Canada

wow awesome hub, thanks for the mention I must link this one, it's great. I mean this is a good as I can say it, so you must have read my mind, yes caring about the readers is important. In fact really that is the only reason I write what I write, if the readers want it, I am willing to give it. This is awesome. Bookmarked, rated up and all that good stuff.

Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 6 years ago from California Author

Hi Shirley. I know what you mean. Writing as a marketer has me hitting the same topics over and over. It's easy to let the tedium of it accidentally spill over into what we write. I was told once that "if you are bored when you write it, your reader will be bored reading it." I think that's pretty true. I usually try to find a way to spice it up (which usually means finding an angle that will probably piss someone off, but that someone else will love... then I have new issues. lol).

Great to see you like it Rebecca E. The credit is all yours for writing such a great and inspiring hub. Thanks for the idea, and the bookmark etc. :)

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ralwus 6 years ago

I write of my purple lizard now and then, even posted a picture of it. It is my muse and I care about my readers and give them what they like. good advice Shades

agvulpes profile image

agvulpes 6 years ago from Australia

G'day Shades, long time no see! I just had to read this one and I was not disappointed. (See you accomplished your own advise with me):-)

This is a great Hub and I will certainly follow your advise!

Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 6 years ago from California Author

Ralwus, I imagine a purple lizard is at least as good as a purple cow for musing and for rembering. :)

Agvulpes, Gday to you too. LTNS for sure. And you always have followed this advice, long before I ever tossed it out there. :)

Sage Williams profile image

Sage Williams 6 years ago

Your advice is right on the mark. Nice job writing this hub. I thoroughly enjoyed all you had to say.


Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 6 years ago from California Author

Thank you, Sage. I thoroughly enjoyed your kind words and that you read my hub. THanks. :)

Lee B profile image

Lee B 6 years ago from New Mexico

Some of the best advice about writing I've ever read, and it's simple. Care about the reader, not about the score or the money or WHATEVER, but the reader. After all, why ARE we doing this? I think I forgot for a while. Thank you for the reminder.

Thoroughly enjoyed the video! Thanks for that,too.

Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 6 years ago from California Author

Lee B, yep, you're right, Lee B. Why are we doing this? If we put profit as the primary goal and the content of our piece as simply a means to it, we forget the basic priciple that makes a business work. We're supposed to invent a cool product or service (or article) FIRST, then make profit. (And that video is good, ain't it? It's a little marketing heavy, but a lot of it is spot on for writers too.)

Alison Graham profile image

Alison Graham 6 years ago from UK

Thank you, I am so pleased to have found you on HubPages - it is obvious to me that I have a great deal to learn but I will definitely be asking myself 'is there a purple cow in here?' before I publish my next hub - perhaps I will only manage a light mauve to start with but I will try!

Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 6 years ago from California Author

Hah, Alison, I expect a light mauve cow will do just fine. Thanks for reading my little semi-rant, and for the nice comment. Keep on hubbing!

Joni Douglas profile image

Joni Douglas 6 years ago

Great advice. From what both you and Rebecca say, I guess I have some work to do. Thanks.

LouLa Ball profile image

LouLa Ball 6 years ago from Tennessee

Thanks for the advice. I do believe in hubbing about things that you are passionate about and sometimes you take the risk of getting negative feed back. For instance, I am a newbie to HP and I wrote my second hub yesterday. My first hub was climbing up slowly but after yesterday's hub post, the score went way down. Very discouraging but I will forge on. I guess not every passion will be well received.

Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 6 years ago from California Author

Hi LouLa! You are certainly right that not every passion will be received. I continue to whine a little about some of my very favorite hubs doing abysmally, but, so it goes. I wouldn't worry too much about a dip in a hubs score. All of mine go up and down. Same goes for your personal hubscore. If you just keep writing, and if you make GOOD content with care for your reader, you'll see that your hubscore will go up. Each hub will do it's own thing, but the accumulation will net higher. Welcome to HP, by the way. Imma come check out your hubs. :)

Sparhawke profile image

Sparhawke 6 years ago from Manchester

This is a great idea and one that I can directly relate to long before I came to HP, but to cut a long story short I am involved with online role playing games, back in the day everyone made money the sae way by buying items off one person and selling it to another with profit added and no one really cared about another making game game guide, until the entire system of making that gold changed overnight.

I spent some time watching the system and then wrote about it...a few days later I was pulling in 10,000+ views per hour from thousands of players all around the world all wanting to know how I made so much gold when trading was effectively finished. From those early beginnings a whole new system of making money was created, using the power of the masses all buying at once since I single handedly caused one of the rarest items in the game to jump in value 40% where before you couldn't give them away.

People didn't really care about me, they cared about what I knew.

They cared about how to make game gold in a changing world where everything had been cosy and now was chaos.

Figure out how to show people what they most want and desire and you will get your views :)

[By the way, I read Rebecca's hub too and followed her, she is a great writer]

Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 6 years ago from California Author

Sparhawke, hi, and thanks for reading and commenting. Clearly you gave your readers something of value, and you obviously wrote about something you had an interest in (cared about).

Being a bit of a gamer myself, what game was it? And what item? lol

Sparhawke profile image

Sparhawke 6 years ago from Manchester

I am a merchant skiller on Runescape, in that I gather items and make better stuff and sell the finished product, back when free trading was taken out to stop bot farmers I was one of the first to tell people how to use the stock market system to make money on Sals Realm (if you know of it) with one of the most innocuous items in the game, the lowly fire rune.

95% of them were passing directly through me everyday and you couldn't buy them without paying me my 10% cut (:p) and then after one month i got out of that, happen to mention I was buying some rare items and watched the price skyrocket for two weeks lol

sunflowerbucky profile image

sunflowerbucky 6 years ago from Small Town, USA

Great hub! This is the very reason I don't believe in writing just to write. You have to feel it. Fab as always!

Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 6 years ago from California Author

Sparhawke - I haven't played Runescape (got close twice), but I totally know what your talking about. Played, WOW, Everquest (only a little), UO, Realm and a few others. Bot farmers are one of the most interesting phenomenons, a real light shining on our culture from the outside that isn't getting looked at very hard. It is funny how in game, a little paying attention can go a long way towards shifting an economy. Farming is a reality. Developers have to remember to work that into their game designs now, try to make gear actually valuable and availabe through play rather than farming. It's tough. A farming based game will die.

Sunflowerbucky... Thanks, Sunflowerbucky. I agree, you do have to feel it. If you don't, feel it, then the writing is empty. Readers pick that up really fast.

mquee profile image

mquee 6 years ago from Columbia, SC

Hi SB, I read Rebecca E.'s article and it is an awesome piece, as is this article you've written. It's excellent advice that I will take to heart. Thanks

Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 6 years ago from California Author

TY Mquee. I've read a couple of your hubs and you do a great job of giving good stuff to your reader. In fact, I've been shielding the keypad when I am at the ATM ever since. :) Thanks for commenting.

figment profile image

figment 6 years ago from Texas

Great information. Bookmarked!!

Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 6 years ago from California Author

Thanks a ton, Figment. :)

Joy56 profile image

Joy56 6 years ago

you sure have to care, and it seems you sure do....... hope you don't mind me asking, is it not of importance to earn money here ....... it is not really to me, i get my practice on here, and feedback. I like that you know so much about writing, and are willing to share it with us. Thankyou so much.

Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 6 years ago from California Author

Hi Joy. It is of importance to earn money here. Some would say that it is essential or there would be no "here" on which to write. So, as far as that goes, yes, it certainly is. To the money first crowd I point out that you will earn more if the writing you do purely for money still cares about the reader. Your mechanic probably doesn't work on your car out of pure love of working on cars, he does it for money. But if he is a GOOD mechanic, and ultimately over the long term financially successful, he will need to care about you as a customer. If he does not, you will know; you will feel it. Writing for money is the same, in my opinion.

For the rest of it, I make money on here too, technically. Granted it's a pittance. Last check I'm at $12.50 or so per month. So, I contribute to HP in my small way. So, even stuff that is not written for the purpose of making money makes money. I guess my point is, get your practice and feedback here and enjoy. If you are doing it because you love it, then I'm certain your readers will to.

dallas93444 profile image

dallas93444 6 years ago from Bakersfield, CA

Enjoy your hubs: easy to read, informative and interesting.

Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 6 years ago from California Author

Thanks, Dallas. That's what I'm shooting for when I start 'em. Sometimes it works, sometimes, well, lol, "the writer's best friend is his garbage can," I've heard said.

Georgina_writes profile image

Georgina_writes 6 years ago from Dartmoor

Great hub! I get a lot of my really good traffic on hubs that I've done zero keyword research and SEO on. I guess it's because they're written from the heart, and therefore interesting to PEOPLE, rather than a Google spider. If I read something I like, I rate it up and share it, so that's what I'm doing here, and you'll have even more traffic. Thanks again.

Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 6 years ago from California Author

Sweet, thanks Georgina_writes for the rate and share! And I am willing to bet that your hubs having been written from the heart is exactly why they get good traffic. Frankly, I think Google actually tries to find good stuff with it's spiders too. I've read stuff that suggests they at least attempt with their algorithms to find good content.

angela_michelle profile image

angela_michelle 6 years ago from United States

This is very insightful!

Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 6 years ago from California Author

Thank you, Angela_michelle. I tell myself stuff like that all the time but it falls on deaf ears. So it's nice to hear it from someone else. :)

BumptiousQ profile image

BumptiousQ 6 years ago from Asheville, NC

I'm new to HubPages. You heap insight upon insight. Can't wait to sift through 'em all..

Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 6 years ago from California Author

Hi, BumptiousQ: Welcome to HP! I look forward to see you around the forums and on the new hubs page.

efab profile image

efab 6 years ago from UK

Excellent information - encouraging for all newcomers - thank you.

Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 6 years ago from California Author

Thanks, efab. Appreciate your taking the time to read and comment. (Cute kid too :)

efab profile image

efab 6 years ago from UK

Thanks Shadesbreath - he is my gorgeous grandson !!

Dobson profile image

Dobson 6 years ago from Virginia

I have never been able to write anything worthwhile that I do not have some passion for. I found that out in the beginning here and it was reinforced once I learned the mechanics of Hub Pages. I find it intersting that you could build an entire hub on bad rap. I will have to read that as I constantly have similar grammar spasms.

Thanks for delving into deeper water about this!

Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 6 years ago from California Author

Thanks for the read, Dobson. Your experience is, in my opinion, the human one when it comes to writing. I mean, if we think about it, how can we care about something we don't care about? lol. Faking is pretty hard to do. Not impossible, but hard. We can fake caring some, but to do it all the time I think is impossible. At some point the tedium and emptiness shows up. Sincerity is palpable and actually transcends grammar. (Speaking of which, I'm curious to see what you think about the bad rap hub if you get around to it. It's gotten some "grammar geek" thumbs up, and some really funny "WTF kind of idiot writes this much about 'bad rap'?" remarks too. Funny to see what pisses people off sometimes.

katiem2 profile image

katiem2 6 years ago from I'm outta here

Oh so true, I look back on some hubs I have tossed out quickly for well numbers.... and going back am red faced about the lil hubs. Edit... You offer great advice we should all follow, how to write a hub a good hubscore is great! Thanks for the help. Peace :)

Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 6 years ago from California Author

Hi Katiem, thanks for the comment. I think one of the dangers of hubpages is how easy it is to publish. In the "old days" of having to get published via a publishing house or some sort, writing at least had some editorial oversight. Which is not to say everything was totally reader-oriented literature lol, but still, I think it's important that we all monitor ourselves and remember that we are speaking to others, to actual humans. We don't speak recklessly to someone standing before us, so I think its important to write as if our reader is sitting there with us. There's a forum thread I saw yesterday where an electrical contractor (or someone familiar with that sort of thing) was pointing out a hub that had given dangerous advice about the size of wiring to be used in hooking up a water heater or something of that sort. The poster was irritated because that bad information was being distributed as fact. A response to his post by someone said, "That's the Internet" for you. So I sighed.

doban profile image

doban 6 years ago from Dallas

Thanks for a good reminder about how important quality is from the reader's standpoint.

khmohsin profile image

khmohsin 6 years ago from London,UK

Nice hub, its a really good information sharing page. Well good hubs should be at front instead of at bottom. So this hub really is best way to learn about how to get hubscore high.


Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 6 years ago from California Author

Doban, thank you for reading and commenting.

Khmohsin: thank you too. :)

jill of alltrades profile image

jill of alltrades 6 years ago from Philippines

Wow! I love this! I can only say "Amen" to what you said here.

Now I'm wondering why it's only now that I find you. Thank you very much for finding me first and leaving a comment in my flower hub. Now I know that I will be coming back to read more of your hubs.

Rated this up!

All the best!

Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 6 years ago from California Author

Hi Jill. That flower hub is awesome! I really hope you get lots of traffic from De Greek's hub. And, when you come back, I hope you enjoy my, uh... lowbrow humor. :)

Petra Vlah profile image

Petra Vlah 6 years ago from Los Angeles

The only reason I care for traffic (since I do not have Adsense I am not making any money), is because I like when people give me feedback.

The way HP grades makes little sense and is even harder to understand; some of my best work – plenty of traffic and many comments are surprisingly at very low scores and have been at the bottom for a long time.

I would not waste my time to please Google and look for SEO which may (and often does) interfere with the quality of writing.

The fact that my regular readers are coming back and the number of my followers is increasing is the only thing that matters to me

Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 6 years ago from California Author

Petra Vlah - I'm with you. Readers are the point for me too. If I can help someone out with some grammar thing or, or make them laugh, that's all I care about. The hubscore thing is sort of random. It's hard to tell what will score up or down. Although, I have found that the over-all formula for capstones translates fairly well to even humor (links and vids etc.). But, yeah, the stuff I think is my best work on here is definitely not the stuff with the best scores. Irony is like a spiked club sometimes.

Slainia profile image

Slainia 6 years ago from Goderich Ontario

This feels real to me. I like the idea that you write about innocuous things, and somehow have it work out for you - I think in a way that kind of shows almost anything is worth writing about, if you're passionate and work at it. Glad its working out for you, and thanks for another great tip. (I've also read Rebecca E.'s hubs a few times, and have to agree both of you offer wonderful advice.)

Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 6 years ago from California Author

Hi Slainia, thanks for your kind words, really. :) You know, my mom used to use this phrase all the time when we were kids, "The cream rises to the top." Growing up on a cattle ranch, it's hard to escape the cow and milk metaphors, lol. But her point was a good one. The richness and quality will rise in time. Maybe not as fast as we want, but I think well written, well intentioned stuff will rise to the top of a milk pail filled with autocontent generators and paraphrasing of other stuff people read somewhere and "emulate."

M Selvey, MSc profile image

M Selvey, MSc 6 years ago from United Kingdom

"but, just so you know, if you puke in a bowl and call it pudding, nobody is going to believe you because, even if it looks like pudding, it still stinks."


Really, really great advice - so few understand this!

Thank you!

Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 6 years ago from California Author

Heh, thanks M Selvey. That is a... um... fun line, isn't it? That's the sort of thing that comes out when I let myself rant sometimes. And you are right about that second thing. I did the hubhopping thing a few weekends back. I was just like... "Wow, really?"

wingedcentaur profile image

wingedcentaur 6 years ago from That Great Primordial Smash UP of This and That Which Gave Rise To All Beings and All Things!

Good Day Shadesbreath

I fully agree with everything you've said here. Unfortunately, some writers on the Internet are just writing for clicks and cash. Beyond that they don't care; they'd rather be notorious and infamous than appreciated in the right way for the right reasons.

I used to tell hubbers something to the effect of: 'Okay, we want to earn as much money as we can with HubPages, but why don't you position yourself with the long-term in mind. Be what Goldman Sachs calls "long-term greedy".

I like to give and follow, what for me, is an elementary piece of advice. When writing articles, presenting information that you don't think is common knowledge, one should cite it with either endnotes or footnotes, and of course, links as we are on the Internet. You don't want to give the impression that you're just rambling off the top of your head.

In my mind this is crucial, because perhaps, in time, some - some, mind you - of the authority of the actually published writers and scholars may "rub off" on this or that hubber. It seems to me, that in this way, one can position himself long-term.

You never know who is pulling up our hubs when they go online. One wants to build a deep, broad, and as diverse as possible established portfolio of work here. You want to be "looking your best" so to speak when an opportunity presents itself.

You said something to this effect, Shadesbreath, in the comment section about the cats and dogs hub. When I suggested how the piece could be converted to a stage production, you said how you keep waiting for an editor to find this and other pieces of yours; as well as your vampire hubs.

With that remark you showed you have the idea. You have to look beyond the $100 Adsense check (I'm still waiting for my first one). And this may sound corny, one should be writing for a little something I like to call.... posterity.

Good Job! See you around.

Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 6 years ago from California Author

I think you're spot on with that, Wingedcentaur. And frankly, the hubs I write that I have the works cited list at the bottom do really solid with not just Google, but other search engines too. I truly believe that the spiders crawl looking for that stuff, at least as part of it. That could be totally dumb and only prove how little I know about spider algorithms, but I do know what I've seen anectdotally. And you are right about not knowing who is going to read this stuff. Only takes one "right pair of eyes." It's like getting discovered in a bar if you are a local band. You have to be playing IN that bar for the right pair of ears to discover the work. Probably a pipe dream, but its less of a pipe dream if you hedge as many of your best as you can, which includes proper citation where applicable. And don't worry, the adsense checks come too slowly to be my motivation. LOL. They do work nicely for buying beer though. :D

mysterylady 89 profile image

mysterylady 89 6 years ago from Florida

Shadesbreath, would you do me a favor and check out my latest hub that was published a couple of days ago? I think it isn't getting any readers because I gave it a bad title, but I may be wrong. In it I pay homage to you. I would appreciate your opinion.

This hub makes a valid point. The writer should care about his reader. Thanks for the link to Rebecca's hub. I had never thought about the impoortance of links.

Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 6 years ago from California Author

I would be happy to check out your hub, I shall go straight away. And, as far as links go, I think it's absolutely essential to cross promote. Especially stuff that we genuinely like a ton. The new HP tool that allows for auto linking is fine, but I think as a writing community with people who aren't just concerned with back links to trick the spiders in it (albeit a minority), we have to link to the stuff we genuine like. Nobody wants to write in a vacuum, and a lot of the work that deserves reading doesn't get read, or only for a time and then sinks away into oblivion. De Greek is one of those guys who works very hard to promote stuff he likes. So does Chris A and a few others.

Len Cannon profile image

Len Cannon 6 years ago from Brooklyn, NY

I want to slap that cow. He looks so smug. What does he got to be so happy about?

Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 6 years ago from California Author

Erm, perhaps "he" is happy that the operation went according to plan?

breathe2travel profile image

breathe2travel 6 years ago from Gulf Coast, USA

Having a background in marketing and writing, I wholeheartedly agree with you! A wonderful, wonderful read -- and encourages the reader to walk away remembering a forgotten purpose of writing - releasing passion.

Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 6 years ago from California Author

Hi Breathe. Not that often I get people with six letters in common with my nom-de-plume. :) And yes, passion for sure. Passion for truth or for detail or anything. Just true commitment to the reader. It's like, would we write this to our our best friend or our mom or significant other? And, even more recently I've seen forum posts about how bored people are getting with the stuff they're working on.

I'm like EGADS! If YOU are bored writing, how do you think your reader is going to feel? (sigh)

Ooops, I risk going off again. lol. Thanks for the comment.

SteveoMc profile image

SteveoMc 6 years ago from Pacific NorthWest

Bravo! You can puke in a bowl and call it pudding, but..... Wonderful advice to a writer stuggling with content....

If it is from the heart, something that you want to share, something that can be exciting to write or fun, then that is what the tale is about, ain't it?

You cannot ignore the money part of it, I find that anything I do to earn money is a promotion of my writing and I love that people are reading it and enjoying it.

So getting the greatest complement in the world, and money tells me that my readers like what I write.

I care a lot, that is why it takes several days to publish a hub. I read, re-read, re-write, correct, and hone until I am reasonably certain that my readers will enjoy the read.

Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 6 years ago from California Author

THanks, SteveoMc. I think it's one of those basic tenets of writing that we all can use a refresher on from time to time. And I am certain that your readers appreciate the care you put into hubs like that. In fact, so certain that I must go have a look myself. :)

MPG Narratives profile image

MPG Narratives 6 years ago from Sydney, Australia

Hi Shades, I've read the 'bad rap' hub and totally relate, I am obsessive when it comes to spelling and grammar. I also totally agree with 'caring about the reader' cause if you write about something you don't care about, the reader will know.

Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 6 years ago from California Author

MPG, that is exactly it. I don't try to pretend that SEO and stuff isn't important, but natural backlinks come from quality writing. You don't even have to manipulate the system to create the illusion of real backlinks if you write with genuine care for the reader. People will know and pass it along. Like you say, "the reader will know."

Thanks for reading and commenting.

Jashryn profile image

Jashryn 6 years ago from Chicago

Shadesbreath, most interesting content! As a new comer to HubPages, I haven't even written a Hub yet! To me it is not about scores, it is about sharing who and what you are. Each of us contributes something that is an intrinsic part of us, this is what is valued because it is substantive. Agreed, the reader is the ultimate judge of the content. The SEO marketing stuff helps it all along. I want to do both, write for marketing, and write to help others. Lofty goals, I know... anyway I love it! Thanks.

Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 6 years ago from California Author

Hi Jashryn. I think if you keep your reader in mind and, as you said so well, "contribute something that is an intrinsic part of" you, then you're going to find your SEO work actually sticks. What's the point of getting them to our articles if they suck, right?

minesgm profile image

minesgm 6 years ago from Texas

This is such a caring hub for us neophytes. Thanks

I voted up and i find it awesome. Great job!


Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 6 years ago from California Author

Thanks minesgm, I appreciate you saying that. :)

dawnM profile image

dawnM 6 years ago from THOUSAND OAKS

that is the truth or why write at all, I think that each hub that is writen needs to have passion behind it, passionate about what you are writing about and what you want to give to the reader, point well taken excellent hub.

Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 6 years ago from California Author

Thanks, DawnM. I think as the debate over article spinning and other stuff rages hotter, as people question the nature of what is actually being served up by Google, and even as Google itself at least appears to be trying to serve up something other than bowls of vomit, this becomes a more and more relevant topic. The balancing act between capitalist enterprise and scam can be dicey.

PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 6 years ago from Dallas, Texas

Hi Shadesbreath - Thank you for a hub that tells it like it is. I'm weary of the keyword, SEO, backlinking strategies that leave me yawning. Writing to express ourselves, to improve our skills and to be acknowledged by others who like our work. . that is a worthy goal. If the money comes, then even better.

Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 6 years ago from California Author

Hi Peg. It will come. It won't come like those other guys get, but it will come. And here's my theory, it will stay. As Google gets more and more lampooned and criticized for the increasing amount of flotsam washing up on the shores of its front pages, they are going to have to (and I think to some degree already are) find ways to filter out the stuff that is on top because of SEO and find ways to float the stuff that is backlinked for real by actual readership who genuinely appreciate the information in an article. So, good content should, if honor and integrity mean anything, eventually prevail. Meanwhile, keep your day job. The unicorns might not be here for a while. LOL. (You might like my Top 5 Ways NOT to Make Money Online hub, given your feelings on this matter. :D)

Cemil profile image

Cemil 6 years ago from Land Down Under

Great Hub. Now that's a tip that I haven't read before. Been trying to learn as much as possible about Hubpages and reading as much as I can.

Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 6 years ago from California Author

Well, Cemil, I hope it's a tip that proves helpful to you. I appreciate you taking the time to read and comment. Thanks.

Beth100 profile image

Beth100 6 years ago from Canada

Great advice. I've notice this past year that my highest ranking hubs are ones that are quite personal to me -- I had put the least effort into them, but they have the greatest emotion and openess of the majority of my hubs. Least effort = no backlinking, SEO, linking, etc. You hit the nail on the head with this one. Thanks Shades!!

Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 6 years ago from California Author

That doesn't surprise me, Beth. Honesty will rise like cream to the top of the pail of milk. Granted we have to have grammar and something interesting to say, but, caring matters, and readers know it.

Beth100 profile image

Beth100 6 years ago from Canada

Alas, the reason for your success! :)

Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 6 years ago from California Author

I suppose. If I am having success, it certainly isn't paying well. LOL.

Beth100 profile image

Beth100 6 years ago from Canada

There are different types of payout. Typically, it's monetary; however, I think that you have this payout plus you have a few good friends and a thousand plus fans. In my books, that's a pretty good payout!!! :)

Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 6 years ago from California Author

You're right. I'd try to come up with something funny to play that off, dissemble, etc., but you are spot on. I will say, I think the number of fans thing is mostly a product of time at HP more than anything, but there are some who read regularly and for them I am endlessly grateful. Who wants to write into a vacuum, eh? And there are some amazingly cool people that I have met here. I wish I was rich and could fly them out for a big party. That would be cool.

attemptedhumour profile image

attemptedhumour 6 years ago from Australia

This is a great reminder of all the elements we need to focus on in our writing. As you say we can often sit back and tweak those five senses into our stories, or bring our characters to life with an action or a glance here or there. This hub will help me to re-focus and i thank you for that. Cheers

Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 6 years ago from California Author

Hi attemptedhumour, glad to hear I'm helping with the refocus thing. We all need to go back and review this stuff. It's way too easy to get caught up in what we are trying to do after a while, and we forget about how we do it, or at least, as you say, lose focus. :)

gamelover profile image

gamelover 6 years ago from Belgium

The most important thing in life is to love people also readers, it's true.Good work

Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 6 years ago from California Author

Not sure I go as far as love, but I do go for respecting them until they've proven to be unworthy of it. Which, when writing to an as-yet-unknown audience, they certainly have not proven to be deserving of disrespect. The real truth is, at least the way I see it, it's really about respecting yourself enough to not write crap. What does it say about us if we are willing to create garbage and let it represent us in the world. The world might buy it, but we will always know we are half-asses and scammers if that is how we are. Thanks for the comment.

Betsy Czark profile image

Betsy Czark 6 years ago from Panama and Seattle

wonderful hub. I love your writing style. We all want to write stuff that people want to read and maybe even benefit from. I think your right, the key is caring about the audience first.

Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 6 years ago from California Author

Hi Betsy. Thanks for the compliment, and I agree with you about writing stuff people want to read and benefit from. I think being useful is a key component to personal happiness.

dianeaugust profile image

dianeaugust 6 years ago from Tennessee

I am new to HP. Not sure if this is the place for me. I was drawn to your article on writing and how we need to care about what we say and we need to think about our reader. This is SO true. Good advice. When I taught composition, I'd bring two of my old paper dolls (usually Ken and Barbie) and place them along the tray of the white board and called them "Mr. and Ms. Reader." The kids liked it of course and we'd change their outfits which was always fun--but the point made involved knowing your reader, imagining them (even if they are paper dolls) and writing to them. If we do not engage Mr. and Ms. Reader, then our writing is boring and fails--not because it is bad writing--but because we didn't care to see what the paper dolls wanted--what Mr. and Ms. Reader needed to hear that day. Enjoyed your post!

Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 6 years ago from California Author

Hi Dianeaugust. Thanks for reading and commenting. I think your idea of putting in the dolls is a great one, it makes the concept have a face rather just a concept. It's so easy, especially on a site like this where you are your only editor, your only critic, the only person who will read what you post with an eye for whether it deserves a passing grade. Thanks again for the nice comment. And welcome to HP.

Thriller profile image

Thriller 6 years ago from India

Simple but superb advice. In our impatience to finish off another Hub we often forget our audience and end up adding to the Hub statistic without actually making a difference to the reader or our HubPages metrics.

Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 6 years ago from California Author

Hi Thriller. I think you summed that up perfectly, thanks; and thanks for checking out my hub and commenting on it. :)

profile image

hubpageswriter 6 years ago

Great hub. I've lots to learn still, so this is definitely an inspirational hub for sure. People would want to read quality writings the whole time, so there needs to be some kind of a responsibility there to research well and then write on. Hub up.;)

Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 6 years ago from California Author

Thanks for the hub up, HPW. You'll never go wrong with quality. I mean, it's not a promise that a hub will rank well or earn, but a worst case scenario is that with quality work we maintain our pride (and Karma if you believe in that sort of thing).

Rosie2010 profile image

Rosie2010 6 years ago from Toronto, Canada

Thank you for the help. I'm new here so this means a lot to me.

Have a nice day!


Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 6 years ago from California Author

Well, welcome to HP, Rosie. Glad you enjoyed this article. Lot's of luck, to you, and I hope there are huge Google adsense checks in your future. :)

Autumn Lynn profile image

Autumn Lynn 6 years ago from Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

Thank you, Thank you for writing this Hub. I am so glad I found it. I am new here and really do want to write. I am not professional but I want to develop myself. All of the talk about keywords and optimization has made me scared to write. Your words just cleared everything up for me. When I see all of the thoughtful comments your hub has generated and how inspired it made me feel-I just want to do that! Thanks again. I will be following your hubs.

Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 6 years ago from California Author

Hi Autumn Lynn. First, let me say welcome to HP! And I'm glad reading this has helped you triangulate your way to how you might get the most out of your HP experience. There's all kinds of people and therefore all kinds of writers; you have to stay true to yourself.

Dee aka Nonna profile image

Dee aka Nonna 6 years ago

Just ran across this one. Love it. I try to find something everyday that will be a "teachable moment" for me. This is it for me for today. Thank You!

Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 6 years ago from California Author

Hi Dee aka Nonna. It's great to see you, you always leave such nice comments, thank you very much.

Annette R. Smith profile image

Annette R. Smith 5 years ago from Grand Island, Florida

I just happened across your article tonight, and I'm so glad I did. What a great read! Thank you for sharing your insights.

Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 5 years ago from California Author

That's super cool of you to say, Annette. Thank you, and thank you for reading.

htodd profile image

htodd 5 years ago from United States

Thanks ,nice post

Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 5 years ago from California Author

Thanks for stopping by and reading it, htodd. Appreciate the comment too. :)

shamani67 profile image

shamani67 5 years ago

Well written and informative hub. I, like you, have a pet hate for typo's. I enjoy writing and sharing with other hubbers. I often think about correcting their errors, but I don't want to embarrass anyone. How would you suggest going about doing that?

cgreen7090 profile image

cgreen7090 5 years ago from Tennessee

Thanks for caring.

Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 5 years ago from California Author

Shamani67, first, thanks for reading. As for the typos thing, if you absolutely MUST correct their errors, I'd suggest contacting them through the Hubpages email system so as not to embarrass the sensitive types. That said, I don't bother correcting typos or errors in the stuff I read unless it's someone I've been interacting with for long enough to feel comfortable doing so. But, that's just me.

Cgreen: your welcome. Thanks for dropping by.

writing4action profile image

writing4action 5 years ago

Wow I have never seen a hub with so many comments!

Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 5 years ago from California Author

Hi Writing4action. An interesting observation. For me, it in some ways confirms Seth Godin's point (and the one I'm hoping to have made using his ideas). Thanks for reading.

DougBerry profile image

DougBerry 5 years ago from Abilene, TX

I learned long ago that if you want to please someone, you have to please yourself. Honestly, I've never cared about the potential reader because either they find what I'm saying interesting or they don't.

I wrote a long series of articles about closing my arcade for RePlay Magazine. It was something that I had never seen done in any trade publication before. My editor there said that the thing that made my writing refreshing is that I wasn't selling anything, I was telling it the way I saw it.

Did it work? Yes and no. It didn't net me a great job within my chosen industry post-arcade, but it did make me many contacts among the coin-operated game industry that I can call to this day and talk to about whatever pops into my mind.

I think the beauty of HubPages is that you do get some direct feedback. It makes you think more about what you've written and what you are planning to write. In the end, the only audience you can ever hope to please is you, however. Money and clicks are nice, but they don't say what you want to say.

HubPages is the soapbox and the readers are your audience. Instead of yelling epithets back at you, they generally are polite about what they say. It's an interesting and invaluable tool. It's also quite strange after spending a few years writing for traditional print media.

Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 5 years ago from California Author

Doug, I can't argue with you at all. It comes down to respect. As you say, please yourself, since that's the only audience you can please with any degree of certainty. I agree, and I think your comment speaks nicely to my point that you "have to care" and write something that is "genuine." In my head, that means pleasing yourself. Clearly you care about what you wrote, and I believe based just on the essence of your comment, what you write must be genuine. So, whether we call it caring about ourselves or about our reader, in the end, what it means is that you write what matters, and write it in a way that reflects quality and value (not monetary value, but values type value).

Oh, and for what it's worth, I was the KING of video arcades as a kid, so I LOVED what you did/(do?). I went to high school in the early eighties, so, I was there for the perfect nexus of the last vestiges of "the cruise" scene as it waned from the 50's and 60s as it met with the apex of the arcade universe. I still enjoy popping in to places like John's Incredible Pizza here in our area, but the games aren't as clever as they used to be. It seems like designers stopped dreaming and just started replicating FPS, side-scroll combat, and driving games. Period. Nobody is trying to come up with the new Q-berts and Dragon's Lair games anymore.

Great comment, thanks for stopping by.

winbo profile image

winbo 4 years ago

awesome hub.. So informative

shampa sadhya profile image

shampa sadhya 4 years ago from NEW DELHI, INDIA

Voted up and useful!

Your hub has very interestingly pointed out the importance of content in writing a hub. Thanks for your well explained hub.

Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 4 years ago from California Author

Thanks, Winbo. I'm glad you found something useful here.

Thanks to you as well, Shampa Sadhya. Content is everything. There's a saying that goes, "You can put lipstick on a pig, but its still a pig." Without good content, all the fancy marketing and backlinking strategies in the world won't help.

Sonya L Morley profile image

Sonya L Morley 4 years ago from Edinburgh

This is the best advice about writing, great hub!

Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 4 years ago from California Author

Thanks, Sonya. I feel it's pretty solid advice too. Seth Godin didn't get the following he's got for nothing, eh? :)

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