What are the advantages to writing articles on Hubpages vs. having my own blog/site? It seems that I could sign up for google adsense quicker on my own site than hubpages. Also, I'm a member of linkshare, so I could put that on my site as well.
Yes, you're right.
Once upon a time, it was much easier to get traffic to Hubs than to your own blog. You could write Hubs and make money without having to do any promotion or even worry too much about SEO. Those days are gone, but for many newbies, HubPages is still a good learning platform and at least you get readership from other Hubbers while you're learning (a blog can be a lonely place).
Another consideration is that if you want a blog to be successful, you must focus on a single topic. It can (and should) be a very broad topic, so you can go on writing posts for years without running out of ideas - but it needs to be focussed. A blog about anything and everything is very unlikely to be successful, because Google is giving preference "authority sites" these days (blogs which offer expertise on a particular subject). So HubPages is a good alternative if you haven't found your niche yet.
The third reason is not an "either/or". If you have a blog, you will need to promote it. One way to promote it is to write guest posts on other blogs, and articles on other sites. So you can write a handful of articles here, each linking back to your blog.
Yes, you might not get satisfaction of a sense of exposure you might me expecting when creating and writing an article on HubPages, and you might feel restricted to a lot of what you feel you should be capable of doing, cutting into your production time just to "baby" a hub. It also might seem at times that the hub community can be "elitist". All of these things are great because you really want to "shape" your craft, and if you craft is blogging, well - there's no better place to do it.
HubPages gives you a good sense of direction for building and exploring - structuring ideas, topics, viewership, post material - everyone has a different style of writing, some better than others - drop a few hubs, check out what other people do, learn from their success and mistakes and when you do hop over, what you are blogging about will actually mean something to someone.
The other thing to think about is that HubPages is a collection of writers, or perhaps "aspiring" writers - so you will get noticed by someone, and when you do it matters. You'll get contacted with job offers if your content is good enough, there are always editors on the look out combing the net for sources of fresh talent, and HubPages is one of those sources. And don't mind the score, it really doesn't mean anything unless you're really active.
Thanks for these answers, they really helped to put some perspective on everything.
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