Is HubPages a Scam?

Hub Pages Scam

Is hubpages.com a scam? Well no, its not, quite. However, HubPages has gone from being one of my favourite ways of making money online, and one that I recommended to plenty of people, to a online money making method that is on my "don't bother" list.

Here's my personal view on why its not worth trying to make money on HubPages in 2011.

First: Rewind - 2007

Back in 2007 I was desparate to make some money online - in fact I had decided in September - that if I didn't make any money online by Christmas I'd have to look for a "real" job - and I really didn't want to. After several months of travelling around Australia - I still hadn't shaken my midlife crises - or the bit that told me I hated my job anyway.

I don't recall how I found HubPages - but I published my first hub about Budget 4WDing on 19 Sept 2007. To date - its made exactly $0 - yup I was clueless! And yes I had to get that job.

Fast Forward February 2011

In early February Adsense deposited in my local account the equivalent of over US$1300 in Adsense earnings for January. I don't say that to brag - I mention it to suggest that I've learned a few things over the years about how to make money online.

And I started that learning at HubPages.com

I used to make good money here, so did the people I signed up as affiliates. Now we don't. What happened?

How To Make Money With Hubpages

Or how did I used to make money from Hubpages? First off - I have multiple accounts here - my other aliases specialise in topics I don't know much about - yes most of the writing was outsourced. You see I learnt long ago that beautiful writing - will NOT make you money online.

To make money on hubpages - it was always about the keyword research. In fact Hubpages used to do it for you - as I explained in my How to Write a Flagship Hub, hub. (Surprise the program seems to be still running). Yeah being able to string some words together in a vaguely grammatical manner is handy, but its not an essential skill.

Good keyword research will trump beautiful writing every time.

Good keyword research AND good writing has made me good money over the years. And so has good keyword research and mediocre writing. Sorry - that's the way it is - Google can't read, not even close.

I know that some people made awesome money using Amazon and eBay - but my best money was in Adsense.

Along the way I wrote hubs that supported my own niche sites as well - backlinks and money - nice.

However HubPages, and NOT Google, ruined it.

HubPages were the ones that:

  • made me remove my affiliate links for sites they didn't benefit from, but which my readers did;
  • who drove plenty of big earners away from the site with their continual requests to change stuff on hubs;
  • moved all my hubs to a sub-domain - destroying the internal linking structure and the age of all my hubs (one of the few characteristics that can't be faked online);
  • de-optimized the Adsense layout so the CTR on Adsense is now dreadful;
  • changed the rules on Amazon capsules to destroy the CTR on Amazon;
  • started their own hubpages program which plasters hubs with irrelevant and garish banner ads - a method of advertising which consumers have been ignoring since 1999.

Photo of County Down, Northern Ireland, taken travelling while I was making that $1300 on Adsense
Photo of County Down, Northern Ireland, taken travelling while I was making that $1300 on Adsense

HubPages Earnings 2011

Google's "Panda" update saw Hubpages traffic drop like a rock - HubPages appeared to have been singled out - but it was probably just caught in a significant change to the Google search algorithmn which saw sites with lots of diverse content got slammed.

Through it all my little niche focused websites did just fine.

A lot of Hubbers thought that Google had it in for Hubpages. They didn't - in fact the people who make the most from Adsense (which Hubpages used to do very well with) - was of course Google (60% rev share to you, 40% to HubPages, and the other 100% to Google - yes it does add up!).

Can You Make Money With HubPages?

Yes, for the moment you can. But honestly - should you? I'm not at all convinced. It used to be much, much easier to rank a hub than your own site. Now however you will have to build just as much link building for your hub as you would for your own site.

And that's a bad return for your time.

Think of this way - if you rent a home - you may ask the landlord if you can repaint the lounge because the pink colour makes you sick. So you spend sometime, paint the lounge, enjoy the new cream colour for a year or two - and then move on.

If you owned that home you would have either enjoyed that new paint job for ever, or had it add value to your sale price when you sold the place. As a renter - you only got a temporary benefit.

And that's the problem with making money on Hubpages in 2011.

They may not be here in 2012 or 2015 - I don't know and I can't control whether the company stays in business or not.

Even if it does stay in business I can tell you for a fact - they've destroyed my Adsense income. Because they changed the ad layout - my click through rate is now dreadful - and there's nothing I can do about it.

You need to own your online real estate - it costs a little and takes longer to establish - but it will see you right in the long-term - just like buying a home rather than renting!

Disclaimer

This hub is keyword optimized to an inch of its life. Its totally designed to be attractive to the search engines. Hopefully it reads OK to you humans to - that's the point for all the clowns in the forums who think that you can't write for both - of course you can, if you are a decent writer that is.

Just do your keyword research before you start writing - its not that hard!

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Comments 50 comments

ajcor profile image

ajcor 5 years ago from NSW. Australia

this information sounds as if a writer wrote it! so all is good - hope you make a penny or two from it Lissie...


UrsulaRose 5 years ago

I feel your frustrations Lissie coming through your well-written words (keywords or not).

Thank you for helping me to clear up a few things that I have been struggling to understand ... TIME MANAGEMENT is crucial in any successful venture whether it be online/offline, especially when you are your own boss!


Joe Macho profile image

Joe Macho 5 years ago from Colorado

Very interesting points that your hub touches on. I'm very new to hubbing, so this is kind of a downer article, but it is also very important information to keep in mind. Thanks for the hub, voted up and useful.


Strathy 5 years ago

I gotta think that HubPages was threatened into making the changes the hurt us the most. If I put myself in their shoes, I can't figure out why they would basically carve off half their face to make themselves look better ... other than they were told to do it. Either that, or they are more totally inept than I thought. I'm totally done with HubPages ... they will never get another Hub or link from me. I'm still trying to figure out the best way of getting my content back from them too.


Terry 5 years ago

I still have a few accounts here and in total, my hubs have gone from generating me a pretty decent income (adsense and Amazon) to a paltry few bucks a day.

There is a pretty good saying that says The economy doesn't control your business, YOU control your business. Sink or swim, its the owner of the business that has to make it work or fail. I believe the owners of HubPages made poor decisions in the aftermath of Google's Panda update.

Subdomains to wipe out the age of the content was a howler. Okay, they redirected links, but its not the same. Content age is really important to links as well as to its ability to rank well. So we all start with effectively "new" content and are being savaged in the SERPs because of it.

I have to agree 100% with you Lis, the days of making money with Hubpages are behind us now.

Owning and building our own web properties has always been the way to go. I remember making that analogy of home ownership a few years ago when slamming free blogging platforms (soon after that I got a swathe of them deleted by irate owners LOL). I've always owned my own domains and I control what goes on them and they work. As they age, they work better all the time.

Free web property is ok as a short term booster, but when the owner start making detrimental changes, its time to move on.

Strathy, unfortunately, there is no easy way to get your content off Hubs. No xml download like you get with Squidoo... ahem...! You have to copy/paste it into a file, unpublish the hub, wait for Google to de-index it and then re-publish it on your own website.

BTW clever move allowing non-signed in members to comment on this Hub Lis - saves revealing our accounts in case anyone gets the 'ump! ;-)


Temirah profile image

Temirah 5 years ago

I clearly have sooo much to learn about online writing and earning - your article is a real help and will be filed in my 'useful' folder so I can re-read it.

Your writing proves that you can write well and for SEO! Thank you for this.


pdrs 5 years ago

Yep you are completely right on in this article - build and own your own properties folks - Hubpages/Squidoo etc... may not be around in a year or they may decide to kick you out whenever they feel like it. Oh and screw Adsense too :)


MikeNV profile image

MikeNV 5 years ago from Henderson, NV

I have written 1 article in the past 4 months.

When Hubpages removed my ability to direct link to the affiliate programs I work with that was enough for me. Why should I write if I can not have a reasonable return?

Adsense did plummet. There has been a slight return in earnings as articles are becoming aged again.

I do not participate in the Hub Ads program. I find it ridiculous that each article has to be re approved.

There was a clear over reaction to the Panda update. And that drove many of us who were creating the majority of their quality content off to other places. I too write mostly to feed other properties viewing the income generated from these pages as a bonus not anything significant.

A properly done hub can make several hundred dollars from affiliate opportunities and pennies from adsense. Take that away and you leave nothing on the table.

In over reacting they destroyed both the quality and quantity of content.

Nordstrom's has a saying... "the customer is always right".

The writes are the customers... and hubpages completely neglected their input.

Oh well. Always diversify.

I'm a little surprised they let you speak your peace. Cheers!


Stacie L profile image

Stacie L 5 years ago

thank you for answering my questions in my head for some time now.

Wishing ,hoping and tweaking hubs weekly is frustrating and time consuming.

I wonder if I should start removing them...


LoneWolfMuskoka profile image

LoneWolfMuskoka 5 years ago from Huntsville, Ontario, Canada

Hi Lizzie

Did your AdSense drop due to a drop in clicks or a drop in cost per click? I suspect it was probably both since that is what I've noticed, but I never earned a living with AdSense.

The Panda update hit a lot of places hard -- Ezine Articles and Squidoo were hit as well.

I think the problem is too much similar content (which may be the reason behind subdomains -- less content in a given domain?)

There are also tactics that Google considers a poor return for their searchers and therefore for their clients. These are being penalized and those using them have used social sites like HubPages for a long time. Now, HubPages and the rest need to make changes to weed that kind of stuff out.

The end result should be more quality content at the various sites. Well written, informative and keyword rich content should rise to the top -- hopefully.


Lissie profile image

Lissie 5 years ago from New Zealand Author

@Ursula - time management is my biggest issue by a long way! Its a huge challenge when you do this stuff full-time.

@Joe - sorry - with the change to sub-domains as a newby you are starting from scratch with Google trust at HP- so you might as well start from scratch with your own site - sorry don't mean to be negative - just my 2c

@Strathy - yeah anything I write here will be purely self-promotional I'm afraid :-)

@Terry - for copying content - scrapbox - extension for Firefox -works really well - you can take an entire account from your accounts page - if you need more instructions let me know and I will point you to a video - quick and easy

@Temirah - thanks for the compliment - it drives me insane that some thing that you can write well OR do SEO - that just proves you're not a very good writer!


Lissie profile image

Lissie 5 years ago from New Zealand Author

@MikeNV - and that's exactly why so many successful hubbers have left - re-editing thousands of hubs multiple times is no joke! You might want to check out scrapebox extension I mentioned above to Terry. I totally agree if this business dies they will no doubt blame Google - but that would be unfair - they've done it to themselves. They got some excellent advice from Hubbers in the forums - all of it was ignored - the arrogance was pretty astounding. Yeah you are not the only to mention that they are surprised I've not been censored - lets see what happens :-)

@ Stacie - in general I have left hubs that have not been unpublished for some bullshit retrospective rule change, are still indexed and still make some money.

@LoneWolf - good question- both - but the CTR is the really noticeable one - I used to get up to 10% - now its more like 2-3%. The CPM is harder to track because it varies for lots of other reasons.

No Squidoo wasn't hit at all as far as I have heard - but yes other sites have been hit too - like I said I'm not convinced that HP was singled out.

Nothing that HP has done have stopped the spammers - in fact the first comment I got on this hub was a spam comment from a spammer LOL. The spam hubs are still showing up all the time - there is no minimum word count, no minimum capsule count, and no throttle that prevents people publishing 10 hubs in 10 minutes - all of this stuff is easy to do - none of it was - that's the sort of advice that was ignored.

No good content won't rise to the top of SERPS by some magical process - Google can't read - its really hard to read (particularly English and tell what is good and what is not.

And who is to say what is "good" anyways - its not necessarily anything to do with grammar or length ...


Megavitamin profile image

Megavitamin 5 years ago

Lissie--thanks so much for this informative article. I've never really made money on here, but it was at least fun to write. Now, they keep coming up with new rules every week it seems, and I spend more time editing than writing new stuff. I think I'm on my way out of here. I've been thinking about starting my own site for awhile now and this just might be the kick in the pants I need to get going!

Thanks again and good luck to you!


TopUniverse 5 years ago

I agree with the most of your points. I am mainly targeting adsense but as you said de-optimized adsense layout sucks all the time.


Marisa Wright profile image

Marisa Wright 5 years ago from Sydney

Lissie, you've pretty much summarised my view of HubPages these days, too. I'm glad I stopped writing Hubs post-Panda.

The only reason I'm still here is that I haven't found another community that comes close to HubPages as an "online home"!

Question - you say our Hubs have lost age, in spite of the 301 redirects. In that case, would you say there is any real benefit in keeping "old" Hubs here, or would I be just as well to move them to my own websites on the same topic?


Lissie profile image

Lissie 5 years ago from New Zealand Author

Marisa - there's a lot less benefit keeping your hubs than there was before the sub-domain move- the 301 is worth something - how much though?


sixtyorso profile image

sixtyorso 5 years ago from South Africa

interesting. I have not oublished anything new for a while.


lakeerieartists profile image

lakeerieartists 5 years ago from Cleveland, OH

Lissie, I have to say, that I agree wholeheartedly with your assessment. It seems that each avenue of earning here has been cut off one by one, and that Hubpages seems to have really aggravated (to say the least) knowledgeable writers since February's Panda update.

For those of us who work for a living, we do not have time to continually go back and rework articles for pennies an hour.


Dolores Monet profile image

Dolores Monet 5 years ago from East Coast, United States

Lissie - I was devastated by the Panda slap. My hubs and earning did a nose dive. And while I was upset at HP somewhat, I was not too happy with Daddy G either. Looking stuff up became a royal pain as the top sites seemed like a lot of rubbish. I could not understand how something that was supposed to help us search for stuff made it harder.

Anyway, after the subdomain switch, my traffic really picked up. I see where people have had some pretty dramatic ups and downs but so far, it's worked for me. So, right now, am quite happy here. I just wish I spent more time creating hubs.


Maddie Ruud profile image

Maddie Ruud 5 years ago from Oakland, CA

I'm really sorry that so many of you are unhappy with the changes HubPages has made. Please rest assured that we had no intention of alienating our writers, who are the lifeblood of the site. The changes we made were meant to improve things for everyone, and we did try to make them as easy as possible for everyone, though obviously we did not succeed as much as we'd like.

While I don't see that there's much benefit in getting into a back-and-forth debate on each of many smaller issues, I will say that the rules around *certain types* of affiliate links and the numbers of Amazon/eBay products were designed both in response to information from Google and to improve the quality of the site over all. I'm not sure you can argue that links to spammy-looking landing pages or lead captures had "value" for your readers--and those are the types of affiliate links we have now forbidden.

As far as subdomains, many users (including myself, and I consider myself one of the "old guard," having been a Hubber prior to my hire here) have seen a substantial increase in traffic. We are working with Hubbers who have seen a significant drop to iron out the kinks.

Overall, I just wanted to chime in and say how sorry I am that you folks have had a less-than-great experience with HubPages recently. If there's anything I can do to help you feel more comfortable or confident in our desire to do right by you, please do let me know.


Benjimester profile image

Benjimester 5 years ago from San Diego, California

I've got to disagree with you on this one Lissie. Out of all the online communities, HP is the most innovative. The subdomain switch was brilliant, giving lots of hubbers a huge boost in traffic that's sustained to this day. I have over a dozen hubs that easily rank #1 in Google for their keyword phrase, even a few hubs that rank for multiple #1 spots. I much prefer writing a single article about a subject and then building backlinks for it, rather than creating a whole niche website around a topic.

I definitely can see your frustrations on the ads though. The ads seem to be getting more irrelevant these days.


Lissie profile image

Lissie 5 years ago from New Zealand Author

@Maadie I can argue just that - one of the most useful tools online - one of the few I need for my business Market Samurai - is a banned landing page because they dare to insist on a signup before they provide some of the best SEO videos online. One size does not fit all. I have popup sign-ups on some of my own sites - I guess I shouldn't link to them either? There's nothing evil about signups (and most of us have throw-away emails for the purpose)

@Benji - you love to build websites according to your own profile - and your hubs are basically funnel or backlink pages to their sites - nothing wrong with that - just watch the monetization - some are worried that we will lose the ability to use our individual ebay accounts here


Benjimester profile image

Benjimester 5 years ago from San Diego, California

Yeah, you're right. I do love to build websites :) I suppose I misspoke earlier. But I limit my sites to a pretty small range of topics. It's nice being able to write hubs for topics that I don't feel like I can write extensively about though. It's so handy being able to produce a single article and a handful of backlinks and then forget about it. Websites are generally more laborious and don't always pay off. I can definitely see what you're saying though. I just like the ease of HP and the awesome community.


ajcor profile image

ajcor 5 years ago from NSW. Australia

@ Lissie as the first comment-er to appear on this hub I do take exception to your comment"Nothing that HP has done have stopped the spammers - in fact the first comment I got on this hub was a spam comment from a spammer LOL." Not funny. Please remove my comments form this hub. thank you ajcor/ anne gallagher


Lissie profile image

Lissie 5 years ago from New Zealand Author

@PRanj - why do you think I'm a writer?

@ajcor - your's was the first comment I approved on this hub - not the first comment.


ajcor profile image

ajcor 5 years ago from NSW. Australia

@Lissie - my apologies- jumped to an incorrect conclusion...cheers


Marisa Wright profile image

Marisa Wright 5 years ago from Sydney

I have to comment on Maddie's comment, too. One problem is that HubPages announced they were banning affiliate links, which caused many Hubbers to assume they had to unpublish Hubs designed for affiliate earnings.

In fact, HubPages had only banned a very few affiliates - Clickbank and Market Samurai are, in fact, the only ones I know about. I have several affiliate links on Hubs and have never been picked up for any of them. Another example of how HP caused needless anxiety by explaining their new rules badly.


Hello, hello, profile image

Hello, hello, 5 years ago from London, UK

Well, Lizzie, I am not as professional as you are especially with technology. However, till Google done its dirty trick I came up to 400 clicks a day. After that I dropped down to 150. I do agree I have problems with that rotten SEO but try my best. After the sub-domain I did n't see any improvements and I was backlinking hoping this will make it. Now with Paul's SUMMARY capsule I dived in hoping this will do the trick. At first I had red arrows on all of the ones I done and the clicks went instantly up to 200. Hoping the next day I will see a miracle HAAA my clicks went down to 77 and 75 and 74 and stay there ever since.

I wrote to Paul hoping for help and maybe I done it wrong. When I clicked the SEND button I saw a notice that I am contacting a member of the staff and I am not allowed to and if I persist my account will be closed.

I am still shocked. You are not allowed to contact a member of the staff?????

I wrote on the FORUM about the same problems of my clicks dropped down to 75. What is alsmost laughable is that they receive 5billion every 0.07 second and I get 75 a day. I am doing well.


Hazel 5 years ago

Lissie, (anyone,) what would you suggest as an alternative to Hubpages (aside from own website)

...Squidoo any good?

...what about Wizzley?


Hazel 5 years ago

...and...what about InfoBarrel?

Thanks Much.


Lissie profile image

Lissie 5 years ago from New Zealand Author

Personally I'm not recommending any web 2.0 property anymoer - for the reasons outlined - you are basically being held hostage for someone else's business plan!

You would be better off selling your articles for up-front payment via somewhere like Constant Content http://hubpages.com/money/Recycle-Your-Articles-fo...


dallas93444 profile image

dallas93444 5 years ago from Bakersfield, CA

Great job "putting the fish in the blender!" Our divergent needs create our own opportunities... We get to decide what is best for each of us!

Change is constant.

Awesome!


belief713 profile image

belief713 5 years ago from NJ

I've tried searching the site....where can I find info about the CTR changes? I'm so out of the loop...


Lissie profile image

Lissie 5 years ago from New Zealand Author

belief - look at your analytics before and after late February ...


WD Curry 111 profile image

WD Curry 111 4 years ago from Space Coast

No delusions here. I haven't even started any accounts. Just loading up and testing the waters. I have a non-internet regional presence. I am trying to enhance that. Old school. Not savvy. I have people for social networking, but they are young and off task half the time. I don't have my own site and have no idea what you are talking about. A little help please!


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 4 years ago from Taos, NM

I am so glad to find this Hub and read it. I just joined Hubpages recently and have not been able to figure out how to make any money. I am just making a few cents a day with my hubs; however, I do just write for myself. I'm not really trying to make any money, which is probably good, because I guess I really can't. I write for me and not for Google, Adsense, or keywords.

I realize you have to give the public what they want, but I can't do the fluffy recipe and cooking hubs that seem to do so well here. I'm just not into that. I am more into writing on serious topics and issues of the day. I do have my own personal blog, also, that is much more opinionated than I get here on Hubpages.

I enjoy writing here and conversing with all the hub writers more than earning money, although it would be helpful if we could earn more here. I like the writers forum and getting feedback on my writing. But, then again, I haven't been writing here for four years, so I can understand your frustration. You are not the only one on this web-site that is frustrated. I have meet several writers that have become disappointed and disillusioned with Hubpages.

I don't think they are a scam; however, I have come to understand they are not once what they were when the site first began


WD Curry 111 profile image

WD Curry 111 4 years ago from Space Coast

Lissie,

That's a good Florida name! help us out here, we need you! You have never seen a storm like the one that hit us. We love New Zealand so much . . . we keep our boys here playing American football, so you still have a chance to win at rugby!


Baileybear 4 years ago

my HP ads are picking up. My adsense has never been great, but dropped dramatically for months. I started my own blog and website and haven't gone overboard with affiliates. I've been getting some traffic, but making nothing out of it. Maybe the stuff I write about doesn't make money? It seems like Hubpages has survived, but the previous big earners got burnt big-time


Lissie profile image

Lissie 4 years ago from New Zealand Author

@suzette -if you are not in it for the money - then that's fine - just don't whinge if you don't make any, not that you would, just saying (I've seen it lots)

@BB - I've been running HPAds for the last few days - pretty much its working out the same as just running Adsense - when I combine the 2.

That's quite possible not every kw its a term people use when they are in a buying mood


nicregi profile image

nicregi 4 years ago from Malaysia

As a blog and website owner, I really agree with what you said. Thank you for sharing and definitely, I am looking forward to continue reading your articles.!


GmaGoldie profile image

GmaGoldie 4 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin

Lissie,

I learned so much! And the analogy with the rental home is perfection.

Thank you so much for sharing your personal story. I am now building my own site and trying to refine the keywords. The 1500 word recommendation is beyond my capabilities for the pay - just cannot do it.

It sounds like you and I are the same age. Are you a full time writer on the Internet? I will have to recheck your profile - accept my apologies for not remembering.

Voted up - truly awesome!


Lissie profile image

Lissie 4 years ago from New Zealand Author

I make a full-time living online GMA - I would probably call myself a marketer more than a writer - writing is just a skill I've developed along the way! I'm looking at the big 50 this year - oddly most of the people I meet online doing this fulltime are older rather than younger!


fanfreluche profile image

fanfreluche 4 years ago from France (but Canadian at heart)

As a new writer on HP (despite having an account since over 3 years) this is interesting, and warrant a bit more digging before I spend too much time writing here. thank you.


traslochimilano profile image

traslochimilano 4 years ago from USA

I think when you written this hub you suffered from headache or tension. Nice written


Bedbugabscond profile image

Bedbugabscond 4 years ago from United States

With panda and penguin, Google claims it is content that they want. Really relevant content. Yet, I still run searches who return crap results filled with advertising type stuff. As for Hubpages, this is a good reminder to back up our stuff, we still own the articles right?


TheMusiconomy profile image

TheMusiconomy 4 years ago from New York City

Thought-provoking, thank you.

If HP goes away, Does that mean all of my hubs will no longer be indexed by search engines? If yes, then it's no big deal to put them on my own website.


Shyron E Shenko profile image

Shyron E Shenko 4 years ago

Interesting article thanks for explainging so much. I had so much trouble getting signed-up with adsence, I don't know if it is really worth it.


jirel profile image

jirel 2 years ago from Philippines

This is kind of sad and it is 2013.With my 17 hubs I earn 2 dollars a month and have earned 2 dollars in google adsense in one year.lol.Maybe because I didn't know about SEO and wrote on the topics I liked. Is there an easy software which can help me find the proper keywords?If not hubpages, which other website can be good?

I started on bubblews. I did receive two payments but two of them are still pending.So, I need a platform which I trust. I cannot think of making my own website as have no idea about how to promote it and lack the time too.


Cathi Sutton 2 years ago

I rarely visit HubPages anymore, just because of all the stuff you mentioned above. HubPages has become a waste of time.


letstalkabouteduc profile image

letstalkabouteduc 11 months ago from Bend, OR

Wow, that's disheartening but seems to be true. Thanks for sharing your experience.

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