Improve Your HubPages Earnings

Earn More From Your Hubs

While some people are here at HubPages for the joy of pure writing, many Hub authors hope that their writing and Hubs will earn them some money. Web writing can be a source of secondary income which earns alongside other work, or it might be your ambition to break from a regular day job and support yourself entirely with an online career.

I decided to the second option a try to after about six years of as much effort as a day job, I'm free of a regular desk job, a time clock, a dress code and a general schedule. Now take a moment and go back and read the part of the previous sentence right before you get to the first comma. It took me a few years of making content before I was making anything close to a living by writing online, and it still takes up as much time or more than a regular day job where you work for someone else and get a regular paycheck. if you haven't got patience and aren't willing to put in the same amount of work that you'd put into a regular job, online writing will most likely stay a hobby for you.

I started at HubPages just as they were coming out of their beta phase in the summer of 2006. I didn't really get going with the site until December of that year and I've gotten to see a lot of changes along the way. My number one piece of advice is to forget about how you write for other sites or systems and learn how HubPages works and what the rules are here. This site is not like having a blog, it's not like writing for other content sites and it's not like writing for your own website. I learned by trial and error, and you'll have to go through some of that on your own in order to learn what works best for you and what your strengths are. Not only that, but over the years the rules have changed and you have to be willing to not only keep up with knowing what those changes are but you may have to be ready to edit a lot of Hubs on short notice.

There are a variety of ways to earn money built into the HubPages system and I'm going to talk about the following on this Hub: HubPages Ad Program, AdSense, Amazon, eBay, and Referrals. Nothing I'm going to talk about here is a revelation or some sort of special trick, it's just plain common web sense, but a lot of people have a tendency to overlook the simple stuff.


How long have you been using HubPages?

I've been a member of the HubPages site for....

  • less than 6 months
  • between 6 months and one year
  • between one and two years
  • somewhere between 2 to 3 years
  • somewhere between 3 and 5 years
  • five or more years
See results without voting

How've You Been Doing On Your Own So Far?

My total monthly hub earnings average out to...

  • less than $10
  • between $10 - $50
  • between $50 - $100
  • between $100 - $300
  • between $300 - $500
  • between $500 - $1000
  • between $1000 - $2000
  • more than $2000/month
See results without voting

About the Earnings Poll

The above poll reflects data from August 2011 going forward. The dollar earning options were adjusted slightly, as were options for the question on membership time. If you have an active account and are making Hubs on this site, please answer both questions, thanks!

From mid-August 2011 to early August 2012 there were 587 users who contributed to the poll. The image shown here is a snapshot of that poll taken right before the poll and parameters were reset on August 11, 2012. As you can see 66% are still experiencing monthly earnings of $10 or less. That's up from 55% from last year and matches the stats from 2009-2010.


Archived Poll Results

Click thumbnail to view full-size
August 2011 - August 2012 earnings as self-reported by poll respondentsAugust 2011 - August 2012 member time on site as self-reported by usersAugust 2010 - August 2011 earnings poll, self-reported by membersAug2010 - Aug2011 member time on site as self-reported in the poll on this Hub.August 2009 - August 2010 poll results
August 2011 - August 2012 earnings as self-reported by poll respondents
August 2011 - August 2012 earnings as self-reported by poll respondents | Source
August 2011 - August 2012 member time on site as self-reported by users
August 2011 - August 2012 member time on site as self-reported by users | Source
August 2010 - August 2011 earnings poll, self-reported by members
August 2010 - August 2011 earnings poll, self-reported by members | Source
Aug2010 - Aug2011 member time on site as self-reported in the poll on this Hub.
Aug2010 - Aug2011 member time on site as self-reported in the poll on this Hub. | Source
August 2009 - August 2010 poll results
August 2009 - August 2010 poll results | Source

The Majority Experience

Year
# of Responses
earning $10 or less per month
members for < 2 years
members for > 2 years
August 2007 - August 2009
258
63%
N/A
N/A
August 2009 - August 2010
543
66%
N/A
N/A
August 2010 - August 2011
499
55%
82%
18%
August 2011 - August 2012
587
66%
77%
23%
The 2011-2012 stats have just been tallied so the figures shown are starting fresh as of August 12, 2012.

Are You Worthy?

Are you writing about things that bring traffic and sales?

If you're trying to earn here it really helps to write about things that incorporate a buying angle. Notice I did not say you need to write commercials or flog products in people's faces. I tend to write about topics I really know (i.e. life-long interests or things I studied in college or graduate school) and then make targeted recommendations for products which support what I'm writing about or which I would buy myself. I think a lot of web writers totally blow it when it comes to making recommendations. If you wouldn't buy or use something yourself, why would you expect your reader to want it?

Are you worth the affiliate's time and energy?

More and more in the forums, you'll see posts from new Hub authors who made a Hub or two or maybe even a dozen, and then applied to the affiliate programs and got rejected, and now they need to whine publicly about it. Their personal outrage and insult are a tad misplaced.

  • If you get your application rejected, don't just get angry, take a serious and concrete look at the situation: are you a worthy affiliate program applicant? If you don't have an established web presence (a decent breadth and depth of content) you aren't going to be earning the programs any money, and that is, after all, why they want people to join their programs.

  • Having been a member of HubPages for a few months allows you to fine tune your Hubs. And solid Hubs with traffic and reader interaction seem like a good bet to the people deciding who gets to be an affiliate or not.

  • Think about what you are doing because to the affiliates, you are running a business that wants to be associated with their business. That's why those applications ask about your business model. I think that's where a lot of Hub authors fail in the application process to the affiliate programs. "I want to make money" is not a statement that shows you have any clue about running a business or meeting customer needs.


HubPages Ad Program Requirements

There are two things you absolutely MUST have in order to participate in this program and that is a PayPal account and an AdSense account.

HubPages only issues payments via PayPal, and the in-house advertising program incorporates AdSense so without both, you'll quickly find you have very few options for earning on this site. As eBay has been incorporated into part of the in-house programming, you'll be shut out of being able to use that too if you don't qualify for all of the above.

HubPages Ad Program

As with many other programs on this site, HubPages does the bulk of the work for this program. The big difference here is that instead of having to sign up with an external affiliate, these ads are sold directly by HubPages and the payments will come directly from the site itself via PayPal.

There are two things you absolutely MUST have in order to participate in this program and that is a PayPal account and an AdSense account. HubPages only issues payments via PayPal, and the in-house advertising program incorporates AdSense so without both, you'll quickly find you have very few options for earning on this site.

Using what I can only presume is YieldBuild technology (since YieldBuild owns HubPages), the new ads are optimized for your Hubs and placed, so you don't have to do anything except build really solid content. Please note, by using this program, it will cause a very significant drop in your stand-alone AdSense revenue stream.

I was invited as one of a very small group of site users to become part of the beta testing for the new ads in mid-January 2011. It was clear this was something that had been in the works for a long time. Hub authors who opt into the new program are going to have to get used to a few things they might be used to from other affiliates (esp. AdSense) if they decide to utilize this new revenue option:

  • Reporting is for the most part once per day. Sometimes the affiliates involved don't update on weekends, so neither can HubPages. Holidays can also delay reporting. Delays happen CONSTANTLY so be ready to just put up with them, as HubPages doesn't seem to have any way of effectively dealing with this.

  • There is no break-down of earnings by Hub, just an aggregate total for the day.

  • There have been several "tweaks" to the site post-Panda, including a shift in page layout, so how the program performs now and how it was doing pre-Panda is going to be different from that too.


July Weekend Comparison 2011-2014

This shows an overview of my Hubs performance in the HubPages Ad program for the July holiday weekend over the last four years.
This shows an overview of my Hubs performance in the HubPages Ad program for the July holiday weekend over the last four years. | Source

More Background on the July Comparison

What you see above is a chart made after a thread came up in the forums talking about how the US holiday weekend for the 4th of July celebrations is one of the worst weekends for traffic over the whole year. While the thread was talking about comparing the 2014 holiday weekend to the one in 2013, I decided to show the same weekend for all the years since HubPages started their own in-house ad program.


July 2011 was still pre-Panda, and it was ahead of HubPages historical peak in registered users (which was approx Jan 2012) and Hubs (April 2012). Since the summer of 2012, HubPages has been actively shrinking in size and you have to keep that in mind as you look at data over the last few years. While I saw impression rates come up in 2014, the CPMs have done nothing but drop.

I know from my experience at HubPages that I get results that are significantly above average here, but not the best one can do. So this data says to me that writer still can make "good money" here, but the pool of people doing so has shrunk and it takes a lot more targeted effort. Chances are those people saw their pool of high-traffic Hubs tighten up a bit, but probably have some pages which are well-established (over three years old) which are the core earners.

Getting Accepted To AdSense

As I said above, if you want to participate in the HubPages Ad Program, you need to have a valid AdSense account as the in-house advertising program incorporates AdSense. If you already have an AdSense account, you can run just AdSense and opt out of the Ad Program, but you can't do things the other way 'round.

There seems to be a significant number of new Hub authors who are reporting not being accepted when they apply to Google's AdSense affiliate program or who find themselves rejected before too long. This is often a simple case of not putting in the basic work or reading the rules.

1) Read the TOS - Due to a rather large rise in the number of fraudulent sites that are submitted to AdSense wanting to join their program, Google has put a mandatory waiting period on a variety of countries, such as India, China, the Philippines and territories where they are finding a lot of web fraud.

2) Read the TOS again - There are some serious things which are forbidden by the AdSense TOS. And if you do get an approved AdSense account and then violate the TOS, it's almost always permanently lost forever.

3) Publish some content before you apply for AdSense. Over the years that it has existed, Google has slowly gotten pickier about who and what they accept to their program. Not only is it now crucial that you have some content up on the web, but it helps if that content has been there for at least a short while. This doesn't mean just one or two Hubs, it doesn't mean a good two dozen (although it once did), it means make sure you get 50 Hubs published and running for a couple of months. Then apply.

4) Make sure you have quality content - With Hubs, the best way to guarantee that you have quality content is to get your Author Score (the number that appears on your avatar) over 75. That's the nofollow/dofollow threshold. If your Author Score is below that, HubPages considers your content to not be very good quality and they mark all outgoing links on your Hubs as nofollow. That also communicates to Google that HubPages doesn't think your Hubs are very good and they pay attention to opinions like that.


Earning With Amazon

Amazon is one of the kings of online retail. What started out as an online book seller has branched out into just about anything for the home, inside or out. To sell items from Amazon on your Hubs, you now have two options. For one of them, you are part of the in-house Amazon program, and you will get calculated payments based on earnings from a pooled tier, most likely higher than what you get on your own. Or you'll need to sign up as an Amazon Affiliate independently, and enter your affiliate ID into the HubPages system.

None of the tools that Amazon offers will work for adding links for products to HubPages. Here you use the built-in Amazon capsule, which has been expanded and improved since HubPages started. You can pick items by selecting keywords, choosing a department to narrow the search (or not) or you can specify exact products listed on the Amazon site.

I think the more specific the recommended items, the better your chances of making a sale, so I tend to hand-pick the items I'm recommending. There is also a spot where you can enter a brief description of your own instead of just showing a picture and price for the item selected and this was a feature I actually requested when I visited the HubPages office in October 2007. This lets you highlight exactly what you like about a product or why it's so great, which is what people tend to do in real life when talking and sharing info with friends and family.


Tuning Content & Shopping

What really draws visitors to your Hub is the writing, not the shopping. You want to have a minimum of 600-800 words (check your Hub metrics) to really give a Hub info potential. Try to have at least one text capsule for every retail capsule.

Offering a few really important, closely-related items to buy is much more realistic than lots of things.

In the sales world, some people try to sell a million $1 items, and some try to sell one $1,000,000 item. Look at your Amazon and eBay sales reports and see if there's a "price point" (average $$ amount) that visitors seem to spend. Offering items up to or just above that price point can bring more sales than offering very expensive items and hoping for that one big sale or offering items so cheap the sales commission is just pennies.

Incorporating eBay

Just about everyone has some familiarity with eBay. It is an auction site where just about anything can be sold or bought. As when making other retail decisions, you want to pick items that directly relate to what you are talking about.

You get two options for how the eBay capsule picks items to display: keywords or seller ID.

If you are an eBay seller, by all means write up some relevant Hubs and link them to your auctions. You'll be able to drive viewers and sales right to the items you're selling.

To make the keyword selection process work better, be sure to take the time to optimize the keywords. This means playing around with different keywords to see what products are selected. Most often you'll want to use three or four keywords to get the best items. Try different words and combinations and see what different items show up. To make sure a keyword is included put a "+" in front of it, and to eliminate products that aren't quite right, put a "-" in front of specific keywords you want to remove.

The eBay program here on HubPages changed in 2011. It used to be that you couldn't get accepted as an affiliate unless you had your own site. However HubPages negotiated a site-wide deal with eBay and they now handle all the administration and payouts. So you can get into eBay with just your Hubs, however the catch is you can only get paid by HubPages if you have a PayPal account.



More by this Author


So, did any of this info help you with your Hub earnings? 590 comments

swalia profile image

swalia 10 months ago

Quite helpful hub for newbies!


relache profile image

relache 13 months ago from Seattle, WA Author

Solaras, there is no benefit or logical reason for me to now restate the things I have been saying for years about the content on this site.

And as for your questions about my future plans, they are already in motion. You are asking about things you think are about to happen and I am talking about something I decided on and began to first put into action two years ago.


relache profile image

relache 13 months ago from Seattle, WA Author

BizGenGirl, HubPages has a long history of making less-than-stellar decisions. I have email going back to a year before Panda where admin is insisting that g-strings and hand bras can't possibly be objectionable content. That was when this site slipped behind the eight ball. The bubble swelled, and popped, just like any other boom-n-bus cycle.

This site is an exact illustration of societal collapse, and all the attendant modes of thinking. That's the whole reason I am here now, to watch the predicted model play out at a level I can observe and comprehend.


BizGenGirl profile image

BizGenGirl 13 months ago from Seattle

At this point, unless HP gets back to the point where they're writers (us) are valuable and not just assets, then like all the other sites, it will fail. I've been around long enough to see it happen. I used to have 1000's of articles on the web, but more than half of them have been lost because the business models changed and the sites shut down. They didn't even transfer to other sites, they just closed and all that work disappeared. Hp is going in a similar direction, and for whatever reason they think they'll get a different outcome. They won't. In fact, what they are doing fits the very definition of insanity - taking the same actions again and again, expecting a different outcome each time.

My hope is that they'll prove us wrong and turn it around and get back to being their for us, but I'm not going to hold my breath waiting for it.

It's just sad.


Solaras profile image

Solaras 13 months ago

Relache - You have been a powerful force in directing newcomers and seasoned veterans to the rules of HP and internet publishing at large, as well as setting reasonable expectations of a site like this. I was hoping, if you had an idea of a strategy that you would like to see go forward with HP, that you would share it. I think it would make for a powerful discussion, and at the very least might be useful to the community as a go-forward strategy. Whether here or elsewhere.

I must say I am distressed to see you give up on the site as a profitable venture. Is your plan to leave entirely or will you leave some content as part of an overall internet strategy?


relache profile image

relache 13 months ago from Seattle, WA Author

@Solaras, I am baffled by your statement that I am integral to anything having to do with the site. And the point I am making is that I do not think the site can make itself viable for the future, period.


relache profile image

relache 13 months ago from Seattle, WA Author

I've been reading about societal collapse, and a guy named Dimitri Orlov laid out some interesting models,...and how HubPages is dealing and/or nor dealing with changes follows his model for the larger US economy. That is to say, it exhibits every sign of impending collapse. But it functions on a smaller, more graspable scale for observatory purposes.


makingamark profile image

makingamark 13 months ago from London

In relation to your last three comments - Yes, Yes and Yes.

Times have changed - the business model does not work any more. It really doesn't matter how big a site is - it can still disappear. Rearranging the chairs on the deck of the Titanic did not stop it slipping beneath the waves.

I think writing still works - but only if you do for yourself and then find what connects with others. I'm now approached by Editors and publishing houses to write articles for magazines and books for a fee - and that works for me. However I get that work via writing my blog - not because I've written for Squidoo and now HubPages.

My recommendation to people is to build your own sites - create your own asset for yourself not somebody else - and then see where that takes you.


Solaras profile image

Solaras 13 months ago

I would hate to see you leave. You are an integral part of the ongoing success of this site.

Please consider chiming in on the Forum "Who is HP's Competition." I would be very interested in you sharing your thoughts on where you think the site should be headed to make it a more viable enterprise for the future.


Marisa Wright profile image

Marisa Wright 13 months ago from Sydney

I like the analogy! It's the rearranging the deckchairs thing, I guess. Point taken!


relache profile image

relache 13 months ago from Seattle, WA Author

When you study societal collapse, there's a point where genuine action to resolve the crisis requires radical action, which means going to the root of a problem to change what causes it. HubPages has, for several years, been engaged in repetitive symptomatic actions that give the illusion of addressing the problems of the site.

Imagine that you have a bookstore where the business is going down, and you decide that the reasons are that your store needs to be rearranged and dusted. So you do that, and it seems to help. Every time that your business seems to slip a bit, you dust and rearrange some shelves. Again. In the meantime, bookstores are getting less popular, and a lot more people who make books are just skipping having them in bookstores. But you've just come up with a new floor layout for your store and you have a feather duster with a longer handle...


relache profile image

relache 13 months ago from Seattle, WA Author

There are no sites which consider authors anymore, just content creators. In short, we are just a commodity to be consumed, and I can not recommend that anyone turn themselves into a disposable asset. There are no sites that view writers as a durable good, it's time to go find other pursuits.


Marisa Wright profile image

Marisa Wright 13 months ago from Sydney

Wow Relache, coming from someone like yourself, that's quite a statement. I am also pessimistic about the earnings potential of HP, but I'd be interested to know the reasons for your conclusion.


BizGenGirl profile image

BizGenGirl 13 months ago from Seattle

Yes, it's been rather dower the last few years on hubpages, though I hope they'll turn it around somehow... Well, it was great to write with you here while you're still here. Are there any new sites that are treating authors better, that you'd recommend?


relache profile image

relache 13 months ago from Seattle, WA Author

I not longer feel earning on this site is viable, nor that the site even has a survivable business model. This content will be removed soon.


BizGenGirl profile image

BizGenGirl 13 months ago from Seattle

Have you considered doing a whole new hub on the same topic, but focused on what it's like to earn on hubpages in our current year? I'd definitely help pass that on in the forums and such =)


relache profile image

relache 2 years ago from Seattle, WA Author

If you are writing here, do not ever expect to give up your offline work. Those days of earning here are over.


cinderella14 profile image

cinderella14 2 years ago from Philippines

Great tips! I am still under the learning phase. I know it may take some time because of my present full time job. I am also dreaming of giving up my offline work. Thank you for sharing wonderful hubs.


Marisa Wright profile image

Marisa Wright 2 years ago from Sydney

Yes please Relache! If you PM me when you're ready, I can create a thread in the forums - as you know, you're not allowed to promote your own Hubs, but I can mention someone else's!


relache profile image

relache 2 years ago from Seattle, WA Author

Things have changed here since the Squidoo merger, so it's probably time for this page to update again...


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