Please be aware that the high-competition niches you've chosen to create new sites for will be competing with professional websites with professional writers and professional, magazine-level editors and photographers. For instance, your food niche website will need to compete with Food Network and dozens of other professional websites.
Those websites and online magazines are slick and they treat the writers like writers rather than like nuisance content farmers. You're not going to get much new semi-professional level writing without paying for it unless you learn to treat hubbers in a businesslike manner. I wrote a hub that might help you understand how you can get higher levels of performance out of writers without spending money to help you out. You can find it on my profile.
Another thing you need to know is that you can't checklist formula edit amateur-quality writing into magazine-quality writing. The checklist formula editing your team does isn't the same as what most magazines and high-circulation subscription websites do to articles. They use editors with experience editing the types of articles they use to edit articles individually, according to what best serves each piece and the publication, rather than to match a neutral voice and a checklist.
Please note that these suggestions are not intended to upset you, but to get you to open your eyes to the direction you're taking the site. You clearly don't understand what motivates writers and you're taking a direction that will require your writers to trust you and feel respected to generate the new content you'll need to make these moves successfully. The royalty/peasants content farm business model won't work at the level of competition you're entering, not even if you start throwing money at it.
Some people will misinterpret this to mean I'm an ungrateful wretch, but I don't care. This is the sort of thing you need to know to save your business. It would be ungrateful to sit back and watch you fail rather than speaking up.
I agree with you completely, especially the "learn to treat Hubbers in a businesslike manner" part. And the part about the editors. And the rest of it.
I also think HP needs to unveil a solid plan for what will will happen to the main site, and Hubs not absorbed into the niche sites. They need this plan sooner than later. Like, now.
Otherwise, why would any decent writer bother writing for HubPages? Everything published would be done with the *hope* of making the cut for a niche site. If you don't make the cut, then what? Move your content? Sigh and accept that you've just totally wasted your time?
Personally, I'd like to see the accounts go back to subdomains without the heavy interlinking between them. Something like Blogger. HP would be able to pick and choose content for their niche sites, and Hubbers would have their own sort of micro sites to manage. At least then writers may feel like they have some kind of control over their content that is left behind. HP will be more likely to attract decent content creators, not those simply willing to spin the wheel and hope for the best.
I'm completely in agreement with both Kylyssa and Eric - they make a lot of very sound points
I speak as somebody who has been commissioned to write a book by a major publisher, is currently writing a series of articles for a major art magazine in the UK and has recently been approached to produce a class by a major learning site in the USA. All the commissioners have credibility in their chosen niche and marketplace - and consequently are people I will do business with.
If you want to commission, attract and/or retain quality content you need to change the nature of the relationship with writers you want to work with - in a business-like way.
The way editing works at present just doesn't cut it for me.
Kylyssa makes an excellent point to which there is very little argument. I don't know how many authors here will qualify or rather be seen as experts in their field by Google and other search engines. For example, having been involved with photography for over 30 years I might be considered one but others might not and these authors are likely to be hurt by the move to niche sites.
Kylyssa says it directly and to the point; a viewer is more likely to consider and article posted in Home and Garden for example as more authoritative than any posted on a "new" niche site regardless of who wrote it.
Yes I think that I am close to being an "expert" in photography but viewers will probably consider an article posted in Popular Photography, Digital Photography Review, Digital Photography School and others as expertise before they think of mine as being at the same level and this will likely be because those sites carry more authority on the subject than lonely old me. Viewers look at where the info is and rarely at who wrote it.
I have seen articles written on these sites by authors with only a few years experince but the reputation of the site where they are posted makes up for it. I do not know what the answer is. Perhaps making the bio's more prevalent in the hopes of a viewer (if they want to or have the time) deciding whether or not my "expertise" rivals that of author on these other sites.
On the contrary I look at who wrote it
After all so many sites have got so little control over the total rubbish which comes out of people's fingers and into subject topic areas.
I go for ones where I can check people and their related sites out easily before taking what they are saying as authoritative advice.
I WANT to see authoritative bios evidenced - and not just some fantasy story or some bod's over egging of their particular pudding
Interestingly on HubPages it's actually very difficult to find people outside HP.
You are the exception because you are experienced enough to see an article from a writer's mindset and to you who wrote it matters, which is the way it should be.
However most visitors are probably looking for an article to find information about a subject and because it is on this or that site, then it must be "good" and the majority of visitors just looking for information do not really know who the writer is or how much of an expert he or she is. If they find that the article answered their query, helps them etc. then they might look further at the author's bio (if one is even present.)
This is a sample bio from Digital Photography School found in one post:
"Meredith Clark is a wife, mother, native Oregonian, complete bookworm, Top Chef lover, and new quilting addict. She can also be found blogging at La Buena Vida and Meredith Clark Photography."
I am sure that she knows her stuff but can others make the same assumption based on this bio unless they do some research on her?
For most visitors the post stands on its own because of where it is.
Excellent points, Kylyssa. You really make us think, presenting a new angle that some of us may not have seen. I'd be interested in Paul Edmonson's response to this as it makes a lot of sense. However, he is an expert in this field and must be aware of the risks you've pointed out but has not addressed it with us. I think HP is focused on trying this niche approach and hoping for the best, risks and all. It does concern me as to all that can go wrong and how it may affect motivation levels of HP writers. Thanks for the enlightenment.
You talk about experts - but what in? I think Kylyssa has a point.
My understanding was that this site was started by people with tech expertise who had a good idea. (I may be wrong - anybody know better?)
On the whole I've seen solutions they've tried as being technically biased
It's certainly the case that technical expertise does not necessarily align well with strategic marketing or publishing expertise. They are quite different skills sets.
That said HubPages has done well to keep its head above water given the way other sites have sunk without trace.
Whether people have the expertise to move forward - only time will tell. Personally I think the current solution would work better if it had started much earlier.
Big name authority sites have always been competition for content farms; the game hasn't changed in any meaningful way with the new spinoff sites. I think HP knows that real magazine quality is an unrealistic goal here and that there's no point in vying for authority site status.
The small act of separating the good from the merely competent and outright bad content should improve things a lot, even if these new sites will never be in the big leagues.
Agreed - we have always been competing with the authority sites for our views, now we may be able to shed some of the "content farm" baggage as each site is devoted to one topic.
BTW many of the authority sites and those occupying first position for certain terms that those of us in the pet niche are competing with are total garbage articles. We may not be able to compete with PetMD for many pet health articles, but there is always room around the edges for home treatment etc... topics that PetMD dare not touch.
If the new sites really lack ambition they will not work.
A talented editor with drive and a modest budget could work wonders.
They are making an effort prior to moving hubs. Right now I have 11 hubs that have been or are being edited. That is a quarter of my hubs. In some instances they have done very little, in others they have updated all of the images with mixed results. I like the work the artist did for the Greek dog name hubs.
In other instances they have added on to the text (added additional dog names etc...) Overall I think they have done a pretty good job. It is impossible for me to say what impact their work has had on my pageviews, given that we have had the subdomains removed, the holidays etc...
Since I have so few hubs, the move from the subdomains worked out well for me. I am optimistic about the move to pet helpful. I am curious to see what happens with those hubs that are left behind.
Solaris, I'm surprised they're spending so much time on editing your hubs. Your writing is superb and you have far more professional editing experience than the editors.
Thank you Kylyssa; that is very kind of you. I am not sure how much time they are actually spending. lol The Hubs stay locked up for editing for a month or so, but I don't see a lot of change on some of them so far. In some instances, they have added a table with additional names, which I am fine with. Once I have written something, I am done with it. I am happy for someone else to to some refreshing on them.
Without being disrespectful to the HP editors, they are not really the kind of editor that I was thinking of.
In the print industry, HPs' editors would probably be considered copy editors, working on style and accuracy issues.
The kind of editor I am thinking of makes decisions about the general direction of a newspaper, magazine or in this case, a site.
They make sure content is relevant to their readers. This is less important for a search traffic driven website than a magazine. A magazine can look pretty stupid if it is publishing features about stuff people are already familiar with, or the articles are too simple minded or high brow for the target audience.
Even so, a good website editor will be aware of what kinds of article do well and and try to add more of those to the site.
An editor should try to set a tone for the content with guidelines for style and approach (in HP's case, maybe a few general hints might be all you could get away with).
An editor should also be looking at the competition to make sure the site they are managing is not getting completely left behind (stealing whatever ideas they need to but maintaining site identity).
How far any of this is applicable to HP is hard to say. Writers here are not noted for their biddability, humility, willingness to learn or professionalism, lol.
I include myself.
That is an excellent suggestion. An editor for each of the new HP sites could take a bird's eye view of each micro-niche within a newly launched site, and suggest article topics/titles to writers who are already successful in a specific niche, to round out the compilation of articles needed to make it more of an authority site.
If HP are going to publish niche sites it cannot be done in a sloppy way. A mere collection of pages does not make a niche site.
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