The Trouble with HubPages

HubPages

I started writing on HubPages on the 27th of May 2008.

My first story was called The Bard of Ely’s Nature Conservation Site. I’d just got back from Tenerife, where I’d met my old friend Steve, the Bard of Ely, who regular readers at HubPages will know very well. Steve was very enthusiastic about the site as he was hoping to make a little money to supplement his meagre income as an on-line writer. The thing is, he didn’t really like what he was being asked to write about in his other work. Writing on HubPages meant he could write about things he liked instead, and maybe make a little money while he was at it. He encouraged me to look into it and to have a go.

Naturally enough, my first story had to be about Steve. Steve has always been an inspiration to me. Many of the things I’ve written in the past, including one of my books, have been based upon conversations I’ve had with Steve. He’s such an entertaining character. I soon found myself embroiled in a very long-winded story about some of the conversations we’d had while I’d been out on the Island. The first, second and fourth of my stories were all based on this. You’ll see that the fourth story is unfinished. I was working up to the finale, but bottled out. I might have gone on, except I began to think I might be embarrassing my old friend with all of this undue attention, and so the series remains unfinished.

Meanwhile I guess I got the bug.

My third story, How To Be Invisible, is my most successful on-line story ever. It was based upon a column I wrote for Prediction magazine, which, for some reason, the editorial staff didn’t like. They thought it was too negative. I’ll leave you to decide whether it is negative or not. It was originally published on my blog, Ten Thousand Days, but moved over here once I’d seen the potential.

The point about HubPages, which I like, is that every page has a unique address: unlike a blog, which is more like an on-line diary in which the top page always obscures the preceding pages. That was the first thing I was drawn to. And then, once I’d got the hang of it, I liked the look of the page too. It’s a very attractive page, clean and lively looking, with enough going on to make the site look interesting, but not enough to make it look crowded.

I began moving quite a few of my stories over here.

Another thing I liked was the ability to add a sound track to your words by using YouTube.

This really came to life for me with the sixth story I published, called Riding With Lady Luck. There are a number of songs mentioned in the story and it seemed like a good idea to actually play the songs. This was a revelation. All of a sudden the idea of an on-line magazine with accompanying soundtrack seemed like a really exciting prospect. Not only could you add pictures to your words, you could add music too. That page really came alive and I think this was the point at which I began to see the potential of on-line publishing.

I won’t start listing every story I’ve ever published on HubPages as that would be boring.

I’ll just mention two more for the time being, before I get on with what I really want to say in this essay.

The first was called We’re Here Because We’re Here. Many people will remember it as it made my name on HubPages, becoming an instant hit. A lot of people listed amongst my fans became so on the back of that story.

It was actually written as a magazine article, but I couldn’t find a buyer. I think if you look at it you will agree it certainly deserves a wider audience. It is one of my favourite stories, very poignant and full of deep emotional power.

The second was called Beyond the Forest: Journeys to the Heart of Transylvania, and this too was a great hit with the HubPages community.

This one was based upon the first chapter of a book I’d started but never finished, again because I couldn’t find a buyer. However, it definitely works as a story in its own right.

If you hit the “explore” button under the HubPages masthead you get a chart of whatever are the most popular stories that day.

Beyond the Forest was number one in that chart for about a week. This is the point at which I became seriously addicted to HubPages.

Social networking

People familiar with HubPages will know that it is essentially a social networking site for writers. Very soon you find yourself interacting with the other writers on the site, reading their hubs and leaving messages, joining their fan clubs and generally participating in the HubPages community.

I made a number of friends. I began spending more and more time on HubPages, writing stories, publishing stories, commenting on other people’s stories, promoting my own stories, participating in the forums, and engaging in debate.

This is a positive thing as it encourages you to write. It encourages you to put words on screen. And the result is very interesting. You have a page which not only looks good, but it can be used as promotion too. You can send your links off to potential clients, to show them how you write. It is an attractive package since, to all intents and purposes, it looks like a page from an on-line magazine. It’s a great way to sell your writing.

I eventually used this to its full potential by incorporating a number of my HubPages stories into my website.

Unfortunately, as I began to learn, there are drawbacks too.

The first is that good writing does not always go down all that well on HubPages.

How To Be Invisible – my most successful story - has had 4670 hits at the time of writing. We’re Here Because We’re Here has had 4318, while Beyond The Forest has had a mere 902 hits. It hasn’t even hit a thousand yet, despite the fact it was number one on HubPages for over a week, and was one of my most popular stories.

There’s no way you can earn money on HubPages with the sort of stuff that I write.

I know that some people do make money on HubPages, but I’ve never made a single penny.

This is despite the fact that I’m a professional writer, whose work appears in internationally renowned newspapers like the Independent and the London Review of Books.

Whatever the qualities are that sell stories to newspapers are not the same ones that sell stories on-line. It’s hard to say why this might be. I think people’s attention span is less on-line. I know myself that I can’t read more than about 2,000 words before I’m beginning to flag. That Beyond the Forest story is about 17,000 words long. It’s no wonder that very few people have the stamina to keep reading.

Self-promotion

The second problem is that HubPages’ basic purposes are in contradiction with each other. It’s partly a social networking site, partly a tool for self-promotion, partly a blog, and partly a showcase for your on-line writing.

Social networking means making friends, but you soon learn that many of your on-line “friends” are only after promoting themselves. This is natural enough, of course. That’s what we’re all up to on here. But the game begins to wear a little thin when you realise that a large percentage of the comments and fan mail are only there as a form of self promotion. We all know them, the “nice hub” sort of comment, non-committal and vague. Sometimes you wonder if some of the people who leave comments have even bothered to read your hubs at all.

The pressure is on for self-promotion. I’m sure you get people sitting up all night writing some generic comments on as many hubs as they can find in order to promote their own hubs. This must make for some very awkward relationships as on-line self-promoters promote themselves on other on-line self-promoters self-promoting hubs. Who’s promoting who here?

The third problem is that the act of publishing yourself on HubPages can become a substitute for real publication. It's a form of vanity publishing. The thrill of seeing your stories up here, and of getting feedback from within the HubPages community, begins to seem like the real thing. It has all the hallmarks of a magazine article. It looks like a magazine article. It has adverts and links like a good on-line article. You are getting a response to your stories. People leave comments. This is much more immediate than a magazine article, which might take several months from submission to publication, and then even more time for feedback. A HubPages story can be written one day and up on-line later that same day, with comments coming in within minutes.

When I first put that We’re Here Because We’re Here story on HubPages, it had been sitting round in my bottom drawer for six months at least. I’d sent details of it to every magazine editor I could find, but none of them would bite. And now, here it was, up on-line, there for everyone to see.

And the response was fantastic. People were raving about it. It was all very intoxicating. And at first, while you still think you have the prospect of earning money from the story, this is payment enough. One day, you feel sure, that story of yours will pay off. People will start to read it. They will click on the Google links, and the money will start rolling in.

Only it never did for me.

Very soon you realise that the majority of hits are coming from within the HubPages community itself and that there is a fairly limited audience out there. HubPages readers are unlikely to hit any of the links as their main purpose is to sell their own stories. It’s a crowded market. Everyone is trying to sell something to everyone else.

Two worlds

Later I discovered that several of my rivals were earning substantial amounts of money. I found this very difficult as I pride myself on my writing. The idea that my writing was being valued less than other people’s was very difficult for me.

You imagine you are talking to the whole world and that it will only be a matter of time before your work is internationally recognised. There are blogs that are that successful, why not yours?

This is another area where HubPages falls between two worlds, of course. The thing that most attracted me to HubPages – the fact that every article has a unique address – is a disadvantage for a blog, which only needs one address. In order to follow someone on HubPages you would have to make the effort of pressing the “follow” button on HubPages itself. If you save to Bookmarks in the usual way, all you are saving is that one particular article.

The net effect of all of this for a working writer like me is that you begin to neglect your actual writing career in favour of a virtual one. It’s virtual publication in a virtual world, with a virtual audience and virtual payment too. After a while you begin to realise that you are putting huge amounts of effort in for little or no return. The only people making money out of HubPages are the HubPages team who are getting quality content for free.

I stopped writing for HubPages sometime in early 2009. After that all of the stories that I’ve put up here have been magazine articles which I’ve previously sold to a terrestrial publisher. HubPages has become my archive, as it were: a way of preserving my writing on-line. I no longer participate in the HubPages community. This is no reflection on the many friends I have made on this site: it’s just that I’ve decided that it is a distraction from my real work, which is to write and to be published. I no longer write articles for HubPages.

You could call this is the exception that proves the rule.

Reviews

"Stone writes with intelligence, wit and sensitivity." Times Literary Supplement

"Wry, acute, and sometimes hellishly entertaining essays in squalor and rebellion." Herald

"The best guide to the Underground since Charon ferried dead souls across the Styx." Independent on Sunday

"Passionately serious, irresistibly compelling, and hilariously good-humoured." Professor Ronald Hutton, Bristol University

"Searching, funny, intelligent and illuminating." Deborah Orr, The Independent.

More by this Author


Comments 49 comments

aka-dj profile image

aka-dj 6 years ago from Australia

Well all I can say is, I actually read it and can feel you on it. My motivation for writing on HP was to somehow give voice to my faith in a far wider arena than my "real" world. This too seems to have missed the mark, as very little feedback suggest any notable impact. (With the exception of a handful over nearly 2 years).

Somehow, though, I am still drawn to, and unable to just leave Hubpages. Don't quite know why though??

Wishing you well in your journey of writing. :)


CJStone profile image

CJStone 6 years ago from Whitstable, UK Author

aka-dj, yes it's strangely addictive isn't it? I still can't get away from it, as this article shows.

freindlydate: I won't be writing any more stories specifically for hubpages, but I will continue to use the site as an archive. It's still a good-looking page.


Amanda Berry 6 years ago

I think the points you make about hubpages also apply to the internet as a whole. Whilst the internet has made it much easier to publish writing. OTOH it has probably made it more difficult to make a living as a writer. I suppose mainly because it's a network of free content, which is making paid content irrelevant. In fact even newspapers and magazines struggle to survive. So in effect it reduces the market for paid content.

I don't know what the answer is really. I make a living selling my art and design on Print on Demand products e.g. T-shirts etc Of course the advantage there is a T-shirt is a real world product there's nothing virtual about a T-shirt. So for me the internet works as a factory to make products and provides a world wide sales distribution network. What more could a girl want?

The only way I can see which might work for writers is if the internet ceased to be free. E.g. if people paid a tax for the Internet Maybe it would be possible for a referral type system could be set up where when all content is paid per click. In which case there could be a market of information where the more talented, creative or simply more prolific one is the more money one could make. I realise it probably sounds horrendous since it would probably require an internet government of some kind. But I don't know what else to suggest :)


AdeleCosgroveBray profile image

AdeleCosgroveBray 6 years ago from Wirral, Cheshire, England.

Nice hub, Chris (she says, smirking.)

Your description of self-promoters promoting themselves to other self-promoters who are primarily interested in self-promotion (and so on, and so on) corresponds with my own experience. Maybe it's all getting a bit silly.

I keep reading, in the forums, claims of people who earn good amounts of money here. I've now decided it's a ploy to generate traffic to their Hubpages in a desperate attempt to earn a few more hair's-breadths-of-a-ha'pennies from Adsense.


CJStone profile image

CJStone 6 years ago from Whitstable, UK Author

Amanda, yes it is the problem of the internet as a whole, and I'm not sure what the solution is either. Mind you we already have a form of government on the internet: it's the Oligarchy of Google and Microsoft.

Hi Adele, I think you're right about those "Making Money on HubPages" type hubs: just a ploy to get us to look at their page.


msorensson profile image

msorensson 6 years ago

The main lure of hubpages to me was that I could publish, edit and remove the articles at will.

I have done all.

I am glad I joined because I have met so many wonderful and talented writers, too many to mention.

I read your article on how to be invisible :-)

I think some people do make money but I am not sure who they are.


saddlerider1 profile image

saddlerider1 6 years ago

If I cam on hubpages with the main intent of making money I would starve:0) Ad sense pays very little for writers of prose and poetry. However I understand that if you write hubs that have product content and you primarily promote these types of hubs then some of these writers may be making some decent dollars from Amazon or Adsense, however I don't really know of anyone in particular.

Although one hubber Miska comes to mine? I write on here for fun and meeting other writers, my income is not dependent nor ever will be on writing for Hubpages. I basically just love the nice way they present our hubs and as well the friendly comments left on each others hubs. I like your presentation here and I hope you have found a more lucrative place to hang your hat on:0)


CJStone profile image

CJStone 6 years ago from Whitstable, UK Author

msorensson I think that as a social networking site for aspiring writers HubPages is fine, it's the pretence of making money that gets me. I'm quite happy to go on using it as an on-line archive.

saddlerider1, I'm doing OK in other formats. I wouldn't like to write about products would you? It would seem like selling yourself to me.


AdeleCosgroveBray profile image

AdeleCosgroveBray 6 years ago from Wirral, Cheshire, England.

Purely as an experiment, I published a few 'buy this' Hubs, as these seemed to be the type of Hubs which those who claim they're earning decent money here produce. As I expected, they attracted hardly any interest - which is another reason why I'm sceptical about Hubpages as a worthwhile source of income.

Everyone seems to have heard a rumour of someone else who's supposed to be earning well. I personally have yet to see any evidence to prove these claims - but then short of someone producing a bank statement, that seems unlikely anyway.

I write because I love writing. My fingers itch if I don't write. I plan stories in my head while I'm doing other things. And so here I am, writing stuff again...!


CJStone profile image

CJStone 6 years ago from Whitstable, UK Author

Adele, as I understand it there are a few earning reasonable money, though it's still only pocket money really. You couldn't make a living being an on-line writer. I need to write too, though I also need to earn money, which is why I don't contribute to HubPages any more. As I said, you can take this as the exception. I just had a compulsion to write this one.


Tenerife Islander profile image

Tenerife Islander 6 years ago from Tenerife

Excellent hub, Chris, and as you know I spend a lot of time on here but have to admit I am disappointed with how much money it generates for the amount of work put in on my two hub sites! I really don't know how the high-earners do it but I do know it is often not for quality of writing as far as I can tell as I have seen some poor quality writings from people who claim to earn a lot and who somehow get high scores here! It is very frustrating and I don't know what the answer is! I do know that I make nothing from my blogger site so this is the main site that generates income for me from Google, eBay and Amazon. Like Adele I have tried the "buy this" style hubs but they do a lot worse for me than my nature and conspiracy hubs for my Bard of Ely account. Amazingly a hub about Thread-waisted wasps has been one of my highest scorers but other better written nature hubs are often ignored!


CJStone profile image

CJStone 6 years ago from Whitstable, UK Author

Hi Steve, I thought you were doing OK with your "risqué" type hubs? I've noticed that quite a lot of badly written hubs seem to generate a lot of traffic. I guess people don't come on-line to read well-written stuff, but just to get information. It's a different reading attitude. How are your Tenerife Islander hubs doing? My "Whitstable Views" hubs are virtually moribund. I still tick over here though: maybe 50 a day inclusive. My Vlad the Impaler hub, and How To Be Invisible get about 10 a day each. I also have no idea how they calculate the Hub score, does anybody know?


CJStone profile image

CJStone 6 years ago from Whitstable, UK Author

Ha! Now this is funny. I just finished writing that last comment and went out to check my mail. Guess what? It was a cheque from Google, for $97.57: that's about £60. Not bad for 2 years work. That's about 50p a week.


Granny's House profile image

Granny's House 6 years ago from Older and Hopefully Wiser Time

Great Job! I love reading your stories. I always come back.


Athlyn 6 years ago

You can earn ongoing income from HubPages but when you write online, keyword optimization can make a big difference to income. What do I mean?

There are two parts to keyword optimization. Every HubPages writer should have the Google AdWords Keyword tool saved as a shortcut to his/her desktop. This keyword tool should be used to check CPC of words you plan on using in your HubPages. Why? Well, do you want ads to appear around a word that is worth .05 a click or $8.00 per click? You can see why this is so important.

As well, when you write online, you should also utilize keyword optimization in each HubPage, placing your keywords in the right locations: title, bolded subheadings, throughout your article body, and in the last paragraph.

Additionally, how a Hub is assembled can make a difference to ad earnings. Using a feed that updates can help your page to appear "fresh" to the search engines; including photos, and generally making your Hub as content-rich as possible is important. Again, why?? Because your page is competing with an untold number of other pages and you should be trying to make it stand above the crowd, delivering more than any other related page out there. Admittedly for a fiction Hub, this may be somewhat different.


B.T. Evilpants profile image

B.T. Evilpants 6 years ago from Hell, MI

Hi CJ. I don't think this is a HubPages problem, so much as a problem with online publishing as a whole. You won't be seen if you're not doing keyword research, and that's not something you're likely to do for creative writing. I'm not preaching the benefits of keyword research here, just making an observation.

When I started here, I built a big following quickly. Now that the novelty has worn off, I typically get 30 or 40 views a day at the very most, and almost no clicks on my humorous hubs. I'm quite sure it's because I write things that I enjoy writing instead of trying to figure out what someone is going to type into their search bar.

For me, the upside is that this is still a great place to flex your creative muscles, try new writing styles and get some feedback. I've also gotten quite a bit of freelance work from people who just happened to come across my hubs and liked what they saw. Again, I'm not lecturing on the benefits of HubPages. These are just some casual observations I've made over the course of two and a half years.

I love your writing, CJ, and wish you much success!

B.T.


CJStone profile image

CJStone 6 years ago from Whitstable, UK Author

OK so this is getting really interesting now.

Firstly I get a comment from Granny's House which appears to be exactly the sort of generic comment I was complaining about in the article, which implies - excuse me if I'm wrong here - that said commentator hasn't read the article at all. Thanks Granny's House, you've illustrated my point perfectly.

Then I go and put my Google Adsense cheque into my account - the first money I've ever earned from Google in 2 1/2 years of using this site - which cost me £6.50 in administration fees. What a joke that was!

As for your comment Athlyn, HubPages read it as spam, so I had to rescue it from the spam filter. But, in a roundabout way, you put your finger on exactly what the problem is. I write for human beings, but in order to write successfully on-line you have to write to satisfy the Google computer. You are writing for a computer not for a human reader. This affects your style too. That's why, even though I know from the content that you are actually replying to this thread, your comment sounds like a computer-generated piece of spam. You sound like a computer. Even the HubPages computer thinks you're a computer. Personally I couldn't write that way. I write to be read, to be enjoyed, not to be picked up by a search engine. That's why I've given up writing on-line. It's so I can stay in touch with my humanity.

BT, yes I like your writing too. I think we must have started at about the same time too. I think you're right, it has to do with on-line publishing as a whole, and I agree, HubPages is a great place to flex your creative muscles and try stuff out, but once you've done that it helps to be able to earn some money too, and unless you want to end up writing like Athlyn above, there's very little money to be made on-line. That's my observation.

Shall I tell you what "key words" are: key words in proper writing, that is? Key words are the ones that are so apposite, so precise, so energetic, so powerful, that they send a shiver down your spine. Or words that make you laugh or cry. Or that give you some useful information, or that help you to understand something you've never quite got before.

I'll die before I have to start using a "Google AdWords Keyword tool" to tell me what words to use and in what order.

Meanwhile my previous Hub, which is actually a set of Whitstable Gazette columns assembled into some sort of order - is getting lots of hits, I suspect because it has the word "Wealth" in the title.

Lot's of people are interested in wealth right now, right at the exact moment we are all getting poorer.

That should tell you something.


Bard of Ely profile image

Bard of Ely 6 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal

Hi Chris! Tenerife Islander is a waste of time as a moneymaker and for traffic and Rob did warn me and has been proved right! Seems most people are not very interested in this place! The 'risque' hubs have dwindled right down and one of the people I was hoping to publish an interview with said she would but then didn't because she was busy and eventually I gave up sending reminders.

Athlyn, who doesn't even appear to be on here, has probably given the answer as to why I do so badly here too. I don't have this keyword tool and think I would have great difficulty writing like that too! Basically it means you don't write with style and as creative writer and I don't know if I can do this. I am an artist not a machine and it is too mechanical for me. Unfortunately I will have to learn to do this better because I need the money. Another popular site - Red Gage - I have nearly given up on having made a grand total of $7.45 in months on there. I cannot see what the attraction to it is. This place I sometimes get nice surprises like a recent payment of over 50€ from eBay but it is a very hard slog! I spent a day recently adding hubs to the Hub-travel project but it hasn't made much difference at all.

I recently tried doing hubs on the results of surveys at Facebook in which I found out what people think are the necessities of life to buy and what makes people happy. It was an experiment to see if they would get a lot of traffic but they haven't although the threads at Facebook did. I suppose I had better get the keywords tool horrible as it sounds!


rebekahELLE profile image

rebekahELLE 6 years ago from Tampa Bay

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this plus all of the comments. I just giggled at how silly it all is in one sense. google has become GOD. the online marketers worship 'it' and bow down to google's commandments.

"we worship we know not what." a bot, a lot of bots.

I do enjoy reading so many different authors here at HP and at times, it's rather like entering our own global library. I enjoy the community, but I do agree, I think some get lost in the desire to make a lot of money and possibly are missing out on other opportunities. I'll have to read the hubs you have referenced here. thanks for sharing.


CJStone profile image

CJStone 6 years ago from Whitstable, UK Author

Hi Steve, I'm busy trying to get us some work with Saga mag, so that should help.

Let me know how you get on with the Google Adwords Keywords tool. I wonder if it would be possible to use it and still keep some sense of style?


CJStone profile image

CJStone 6 years ago from Whitstable, UK Author

rebekahELLE, I hope you enjoy the stories. Shall we start a new religion: Google Worship? We could call it Googleism.


Bard of Ely profile image

Bard of Ely 6 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal

I just had a look at the Google Adwords keywords tool and found out that only 5,400 global monthly searches for my friend Lidia Guevara exist even though she is brilliant but which is probably why my hubs about her are so high in search rankings contrasted with 30,400,000 who search for handbags and 37,200,000 are searching for mobile phones. In other words it boils down to not writing about stuff you are interested in or people you like but about rubbish that people want to buy!


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 6 years ago from TEXAS

CJ - That sentence you used to describe writing about commercial products with which I absolutely agree for that context, namely "It would seem like selling yourself to me", happens to permeate my entire attitude about selling anything creative I do or have ever done. My Mother was an accomplished artist but my Dad forbade her to sell her paintings, so maybe my weird attitude came from that example. Early on, I began to feel like it would be selling myself to design, paint or write commercially, all of which I did privately & not too shabbily, though I've gone out of my way to keep it private! It didn't bother me to sell my intellectual skills, just those in which "I" was an ingredient in the would-be "product".

HubPages for me is the first I've actually ventured to "publish" anything except for a few samples on my personally created from-scratch website, which I also went out of my way to keep as private as possible, simply inviting friends to view, but deliberately avoiding subscribing to services to increase hits and get lots of viewers!

So in joining HubPages, the last goal in mind for me was/is to make money from it. Your article convinces me I have nothing to worry about in that area! haha! Sufficient that it allows and encourages me to present my prose and poetry for public viewing. My first hubs were quite intellectual, much more than creative, by the way. I was accused in some comments of writing like a professor, though my heart is that of a poet.

Oh, I've harboured some silly notion that my poetry would be discovered & published posthumously, like Emily Dickinson's, and like her, mine have been all hand-written in notebooks and like her, I've written literally volumes of the stuff and like her, have shared only a few snippets with close friends over the years. It literally makes me nervous still to offer it in hubs, but it is gratifying when some people comment that it's actually soothed them or given them hope or inspiration. I wrote it to soothe, give hope and to inspire myself during more trying times, and have considered that it might have that kind of value for others. I don't think of its value in monetary or fame terms. At times I'd like to shake off this weird perspective, but it's ingrained. I guess I'm some sort of a relic. LOL (Now you needn't be too quick to agree! I'm pretty "spry", they tell me. haha)

I truly appreciate the insight you give about the many other positive and negative aspects of HP. For sure, nothing's perfect and this is no exception. You've pinpointed quite accurately some of the problems that plague me about it. However, the beauties of it seem to outweigh them and I don't dwell much on the self-promoters working on each other in their convoluted manner. Somehow my hubs don't get many of those, anyway. If they do drop by, I suspect that they're frightened off quickly by my verbosity, even in my replies to others' comments on them, which often wax long as well! haha. So perhaps I've found my 'level' - and so be it, if so.

I find myself admiring you more than even I did when I first saw you on here, so I'm glad you plan to stick around in whatever capacity suits you now. You've written ample good articles which are virtually new to me to last me awhile. If I run out of them, I'll go looking for your published works elsewhere! So while you're off doing well in your professional capacity and dropping by occasionally for your HP "fix", I'll be dropping by here to read a bit! It definitely could become habit-forming! Thanks for your wisdom and excellence, CJ Stone.


lorlie6 profile image

lorlie6 6 years ago from Bishop, Ca

Nice to meet you, C.J. I differ with you in your assessment of this site in that I do find it 'real work.' I am a very new writer and computer user and have begun to develop my 'voice' and confidence here.

Whether or not my work is quality is not the issue, it is that HubPages is a platform where I am comfortable learning this craft.

Thanks for your view-sorry I won't be seeing you here.


CJStone profile image

CJStone 6 years ago from Whitstable, UK Author

lorlie6, you will be seeing me here, just I won't be writing stories specifically for the site, as I did when I first started here. To me quality IS an issue, and when I look at the kind of stuff that gets high Hub points on here, it's frankly embarrassing how poorly written some of it is. What that shows is that this is not a site designed for working writers.

Nellieanna, I don't mind selling myself... that is, I like to to be paid for what I do, but I would also prefer to be proud of the result. I think doing reviews of Amazon items in order to make money would be selling yourself out, which is a different thing. Nice to hear your story.


Jane Bovary profile image

Jane Bovary 6 years ago from The Fatal Shore

Hello CJ,

Your article was very interesting to me. I too caught the bug here and for the first couple of months was veering close to obsession with the ridiculous amount of time I'd spend here...and you're right of course...commenting, reading other peoples hubs etc. is extremely time-consuming. TOO time-consuming, so I made a conscious effort to withdraw for a while.

One thing I did glean fairly early was that I wasn't going to be one of the money-makers, despite a couple of lame attempts at a *commercial* hub. Although I've never been a professional writer, being poor, I would like to make some money through writing. I'm prepared to sell myself out! I 'm just not very good at it. Anyhow, thanks for the hub...I agree with just about everything you wrote.

Cheers


CJStone profile image

CJStone 6 years ago from Whitstable, UK Author

Glad you liked it Jane. I think once you get out of the idea that it's a way of making money, and start using it as a social networking site, it's fine. Google must be doing very well out of it though. I might try to find some sites that actually do pay money.


Christoph Reilly profile image

Christoph Reilly 6 years ago from St. Louis

I came just for the joy of writing, and the money was not an issue for me. I just wanted to experiment with writing techniques, try on different styles, and so on. For the first year, I became somewhat addicted to HP. There was a fabulous community - not that there isn't now - but it seems like us creative funny guys were supported by HP itself,and we would all be online at the same time, shooting comments back and forth, and laughing a lot.

But then the great change came with the contests and the emphasis on churning out articles willy nilly, like machines, and the old gang broke up. Many left. I have remained good friends with many of these people and we write and keep in touch, including my friend up there Mr. Evilpants. I myself was not here for about a year and have only recently returned.

It's not the same, but I've started writing some stuff for here. Still not the money making type of hubs, but things I want to write about with some creative muscle stretching. I write on other sites and for places where I have to churn out the crap. But making money on the Internet is still difficult and less than adequate.

Sorry you don't write for HP any more,but there's still much of your material I haven't read. And I think you are aware, I have been your fan for a long time and I have always held you in the highest esteem. In your HP interview when you said you read me, I almost fell out of my chair! Ha!

I suppose sometimes it gives me a boost that helps me gain some confidence and continue in my real writing life.


KFlippin profile image

KFlippin 6 years ago from Amazon

I would have to agree with you at this point. It is sadly sort of embarrassing to see poorly written hubs as hot and best while there are really excellent and worthy writers that are under the radar. As long as HP is based on followers and games and has this cultish bent as Website Examiner pointed out recently, then it is quite an effort to find the gold laying heavy at the bottom of the well.


CJStone profile image

CJStone 6 years ago from Whitstable, UK Author

Hi Christoph, yes I remember those days, and you lot and all those crazy hubs. I wasn't a part of that, but I knew you all and used to drop in occasionally. It was great fun, and the thing that distinguished you was that you were all very good natural writers. It's a pity that broke up.

KFlippin Funny thing now is, since writing this hub I've started to think about HubPages again, so maybe there will be one or two original hubs again. Maybe we should start our own points system to grade hubs, as the ones with the highest hubscores on here are almost invariably badly written. Why is that? Is it a deliberate ploy by hubpages to encourage bad writers?


pgrundy 6 years ago

Thank you for this, CJ. It validated much of my own experience with Hub Pages, especially problem #3--that it's really a form of vanity publishing and I found it kept me from doing 'real' writing, the kind of writing that makes me feel alive and energized. It started to just FEEL bad. I don't think very many people here ever 'got' that when I left. I mean, why do I have to keep at if it feels crappy? I think I don't! lol!

For me the money thing is very troubling and it's not just an online issue for writers, though the online version of it is especially toxic in a lot of ways. Basically I don't think money should be the main motivation for writing, period. Poe died in poverty, as did Lovecraft and many other writers--were they bad writers? They were brilliant writers. We all need money of course, but at some point you have to decide what your priorities are as an artist. Is your primary dedication to your art? Or to your checkbook? A balance would be nice, but somehow the net seems not to promote that, and 'monetizing' every adjective and adverb is not for me. Flash fiction is kind of cool and is catching on somewhat online. But that's an exception to the rule. Most instant publishing online is drek. I include much of my stuff in that remark.

I also came to see that the social networking I was briefly so hooked on here amounted to little more than mental masturbation. I made a few real friends at HP, but after my partner nearly died late last year, HP began to look and feel very different to me. Nothing like death and catastrophe to clear the senses fast. I found I wasn't enjoying the commentary here any longer--most if it was either vacuous and insincere, or vicious for no apparent reason. I'd see 30 comment in the morning and feel sick. I didn't want to delete them OR deal with them.

To this day I still get vicious comments from people at HP who go out of their way to contact me to let me know that they are making lots of money and I'm not so I suck, ha, ha. Wow. What motivates this kind of behavior? I know I don't need it in my life. Hence my absence here.

Anyway, I appreciate you sharing your own experience of HP and your reasons for scaling back. You are such an interesting writer and a true individual. HP is lucky to have you. Thank you.


CJStone profile image

CJStone 6 years ago from Whitstable, UK Author

Hi Pam, no money shouldn't be the main motivation for writing, but it certainly helps!

I don't why people would want to go out of their way to contact you to let you know how much they were earning. That's just malicious. Anyway, Steve and I were discussing this a few days a go, and we think a lot of these claims are false. I don't know why people feel the need to claim that they are making lots of money when they aren't, but this is clearly what is going on in some cases. It's a form of insecurity, plus, I suspect, a lot of jealousy. You're a natural writer. Anyone can see that. I suspect that some people are just envious of your talent.

I'll continue to use it, mainly because - unlike you - I wouldn't want to have to start all over again, and this is, as I say, an archive for me now. Anyway, it's still a nice looking page and my website is all tangled up with it as well, so I won't be leaving any time soon.

Nice to hear from you Pam. HubPages is a poorer place without you!


seamist profile image

seamist 6 years ago from Northern Minnesota

I've wondered about the "making money on Hubpages" claims too. No matter what I write here...informational hubs or product hubs, the money just dribbles in. I've tried alot of the suggestions here....social bookmarking, keyword research, etc. Although it helped a little, it has not made a very big impact. I think it's just plain hard to make money this way.


CJStone profile image

CJStone 6 years ago from Whitstable, UK Author

seamist, I gather some people do make quite reasonable money here, but I'm not one of them. As to how they go about it, there are an awful lots of hubs with this subject and my guess is that most of those don't make any money either.


Olivia St. George 5 years ago

C.J. -

Thank you for the very enlightening piece. I recently joined Hubpages and wrote only one Hub. I love to write and I take it very seriously. When I discovered Hubpages, I was through the roof with excitemnt ready to chomp at the bit. The idea of making some extra cash was a bonus - but I wanted to get my words out there. My first and only Hub started with the standard 50 points, and within 48 hours was cut by half.

If the articles, (hubs) are forever eternal, then I believe the point system shouldn't start until a newbie at least gets the first bite.

You saved me from myself! I'll continue to write - but not on Hubpages. It's amazing to see how someone like you, with all of your talent, decided to leave Hub - but understandable no less. I'd wish you good luck, but you won't need it!

OSG


CJStone profile image

CJStone 5 years ago from Whitstable, UK Author

Olivia, I haven't left hubpages. I still put stories up here, though it's really an archive for me now. It's still a useful way to get your work published and, if you know the tricks, you can make money. Trouble is it's a distraction and you can end up writing vast amounts for hubpages for very little return. That's my warning in this piece. It doesn't tell you not to write for hubpages, it tells you what the pitfalls are.


Amanda Severn profile image

Amanda Severn 5 years ago from UK

Hi Chris, this was a really interesting read for me. I've always regarded you as being one of the best writers on this site, so in a way I'm surprised that you haven't had the traffic you deserve. Like you, I've earned very little here in terms of Adsense, though I do do better traffic-wise. Most days I see between 250 and 300 visits. The majority of these are on my Art hubs.

Recently I re-read some of my hubs and began to question why I've left them on here. Really, it is a kind of Vanity Press for me. Perhaps it's time for me to try my hand in the real world, though I wouldn't know where to begin. Now there's an idea for a hub for you - write something about getting published in the UK, and I'll be the first to read it! Meanwhile, keep posting, even if it is just your archive material, as you're always a pleasure to read.


CJStone profile image

CJStone 5 years ago from Whitstable, UK Author

Amanda, I will write about publishing in the UK. That's a good idea. I have had one hit on here too. My Vlad the Impaler hub is number 2 on Amazon and gets about 50 a day. All the rest are between 0 and 10 a day, mostly 0. I think it is mainly better treated as vanity press, but there are exceptions. I suspect most people who claim to make lots of money do so in order to drive traffic to their hubs. Write a piece called "Make Money on HubPages" or some such combination of words and you will get a lot of hits guaranteed, even if your claims are untrue.


M J Higgins profile image

M J Higgins 5 years ago from Wirral, UK

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Chris, I love what you wrote about keywords :

"Shall I tell you what "key words" are: key words in proper writing, that is? Key words are the ones that are so apposite, so precise, so energetic, so powerful, that they send a shiver down your spine. Or words that make you laugh or cry. Or that give you some useful information, or that help you to understand something you've never quite got before. I'll die before I have to start using a "Google AdWords Keyword tool" to tell me what words to use and in what order."

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Springboard profile image

Springboard 4 years ago from Wisconsin

It IS a funny thing, this HubPages, because I think most of us are drawn here at first, not necessarily because of money, but because of that strong, nagging desire to write and be read. You notwithstanding, of course, doing it for a living BEFORE you got here.

I know exactly what you mean about those certain commenters though, and about the thought that they haven't even taken the time to read what you've written. That kind of defeats the whole purpose. But then again, you did hit on something that I think DOES apply, and DOES have value even if you never see a dime from it, or get a real reader from it. And that is that for whatever it's worth, this whole process SPURS the writing process. It gets the juices flowing, and sometimes rejuvenates the juices when the juices WON'T flow as easily.

Of course, I write opinion. I used to write fiction, and I'm not sure why I gave that up. Perhaps opinion writing just feels more fluid, seems more natural to me, and comes more easily...Maybe it's because I can't write a lick after all. lol

But that's kind of what my thoughts were when I came up with the name "Springboard." It's not anything original, mind you, but it came to mind because opinions really are the result of expressing a thought AFTER a thought. Yeah, I do have original thoughts, but you get the gist. The Springboard (which actually started as a blog, not on HubPages) runs on the idea that a concept, or another opinion acts like a springboard, launching a new slant, a new twist, a new idea, or just a simple rebuttal.

HubPages, unlike my blog, gets comments. Those comments spur thoughts. Those thoughts become other blogs or new hubs.

The most important thing about that, to me, is that I write. I keep writing. The pen doesn't stop. It CAN'T stop. What's that old saying, "A writer writes. Always." If HubPages does nothing else for me, it simply keeps me writing.

Money aside. Notoriety aside. Or even the joy of seeing my words up on the screen aside. I write to write. Simple as that. And HubPages lets me do that.


CJStone profile image

CJStone 4 years ago from Whitstable, UK Author

Hello Springboard, I thought you were leaving HubPages?

Actually, looking back over this article, my attitude to HubPages has changed all over again. Ironically enough I got my first pay-cheque while this story was still current. It was for £60 (about $90), which, I worked out was less than 50p a week. But I've started putting original stuff up here again, for precisely the reason you identified: that it spurs the writing process. So if I haven't got any paid work to do, I can still experiment a little here. I get to write things I couldn't ever write for a magazine. I can be bolder and more adventurous in the subjects I pick, plus, some of those things I think about that would make a good article, but which I can't find a paid home for, I will put up here instead. Plus, the other thing it does, is it offers me an on-line archive for all of my published material. So it continues to serve its purpose.

I think you'd be making a mistake to leave HubPages personally: though I understood the point of your "Goodbye HubPages" article. It still offers a decent platform for the aspiring writer, and where else would you get to meet a working writer like me?

It's a lot easier than trying to run a webpage, and more flexible than a blog, and it's even possible to get a hit on here.

Keep on writing!


Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

Wesman Todd Shaw 4 years ago from Kaufman, Texas

It crossed my mind that you might know the Bard. Interesting guy that one is!

I admit I was more than a little freaked out by his promotion of David Rothschild; but then later I realized he was looking at it from a better point of view.

I hadn't thought so much about these contradictions you addressed. It's probably because I'm also mostly trying to earn some money online! Ha!


CJStone profile image

CJStone 4 years ago from Whitstable, UK Author

Nothing wrong with earning money on-line if you can make it. Not had much luck myself, but your hubs are much more about promoting - and warning people off - products that you have a clear understanding of. That makes you an expert, a saleable commodity in writing terms.

Yes, Steve is a great friend of mine, and I understand where he is coming from re David de Rothschild. He is showing us not to make caricatures of people based upon their surname. Wise advice I feel.


Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

Wesman Todd Shaw 4 years ago from Kaufman, Texas

Thank You, Sir!

I DO make "a little" - I keep at it because the great hope is that five years from now some of these will still be earning money for me while I'm doing whatever it is I'm doing.

It seems like a huge waste of time, but there's still lots of encouraging signs for it. It took a year for me to make my first hundred dollars, but I didn't much know what I was doing then. I almost made that hundred in total last month, ....but when you look at the time I spend - sheesh!


CJStone profile image

CJStone 4 years ago from Whitstable, UK Author

Yes, we're not going to become millionaires at it are we?

I've only ever had one cheque, for £60.

But mine are opinion pieces, the sort of things that go down well in magazines, whereas yours are product assessments, which is the sort of thing people search for on-line. I can imagine your hubs generating increasing traffic over the years, whereas mine die once the news has changed.

I've had one "hit", which is my Vlad the Impaler hub. Don't know how it became a hit since I never promoted it and I never did anything beyond publishing it, and then one day there was suddenly all this traffic. Don't ask me why.


Springboard profile image

Springboard 4 years ago from Wisconsin

CJ, yes, I thought I was leaving too. But as you also astutely pointed out in your hub, it's as much a social networking site as it is a writing site, and it's that social network part that has kept its claws dug in and won't let me go. After I wrote the three hubs pertaining to the issue that caused me to consider leaving I was a bit surprised by the support I got, and even received many emails outside of HubPages asking me to stick around regardless of what HubPages decided to do with my hubs that were taken down. And so it goes. Here I am. At least for now.

BTW, I was thinking you had stayed too despite what this hub suggested since when I looked at your profile, this hub was down on the list. :)

I suppose at the end of the day, for any of us who write here, the bottom line is, "What do we have to lose?" I think the clear answer to that is nothing. So I'll just write and let the cards fall where they may.


CJStone profile image

CJStone 4 years ago from Whitstable, UK Author

Exactly right Springboard. What have we got to lose? Yes, I stayed, though I never intended to leave. I moved it down on my list of priorities for a while, that's all. And I'm not sure HubPages have that much control over what gets flagged either. They are hostage to the Google fortune, just like the rest of us. Glad you are staying and I look forward to reading more of your writings.


Springboard profile image

Springboard 4 years ago from Wisconsin

As do I, yours. :)


Eileen Hughes profile image

Eileen Hughes 3 years ago from Northam Western Australia

Hi I started writing here about 4 years ago and I just come and go these days because I got jacked off about 12 months ago with all the back biting in the forum.

I have earned a few dollars here and still do even though I do not write here. Like you I just mainly enjoyed writing about things I enjoy or had learned things about.

I now write bits and pieces on four different sites and enjoy going back and forth writing things here and there. But like you say I do not do a lot of keyword research so thats what lets me down . But hey thats life we need to do what and how we enjoy doing. The main thing is we meet a lot of wonderful people along the way. You included in that. cheers and good luck

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