When I first joined HubPages, everyone said "don't pay for anying, you can get everything you need to make money online for free".
More recently, I've seen more and more experienced Hubbers recommending paid programs. Things like Market Samurai, Keyword Academy, backlinking servies, article spinning/marketing services and so on.
Admittedly some of them are recommending just a trial membership, which only costs a few dollars. However, others do have a significant monthly cost, ranging anywhere from $5 to nearly $200 a month.
I'm taking it as a given that you wouldn't even think of signing up for any of these until you were ready to start your own website or sites - I can't see the investment making any sense if you're just going to Hub.
But what are the other criteria? How do you know when it's time to take the plunge and invest in these programs?
I've heard Mark say that if you're not prepared to make the investment, you're not serious about making money online - but for some people, these programs would more than wipe out their current earnings, so it's not an easy decision.
What if your problem isn't lack of promotion, it's just that your niche sucks? How do you know without laying out the cash?
My sites are a hobby for me these days so I'm not likely to be paying for any services any time soon - but I am having conversations with others who are at that point. So what advice would you give to help them assess their "readiness"?
This is just my personal preference, but you should consider paying for certain things at the point in time in which it makes sense to pay for them.
Which is a roundabout way of saying "it depends". I went a different route than Misha and sunforged, but - like them - I now spend a proportion of my monthly income on building that income up (I spend about 25% of my income).
If you are in this to make money and you have been doing it for a year - you should by now - and this is crucial - know what is working for you and what is not.
I will say that again - you must determine what is working for you or not. And be brutally hoinest with yourself. If that niche did not fly as well as you thought and you cannot fix it - let it go. If you bit off more than you could chew, swallow your pride and sell it or find some one else to do it for you.
As an example - I tried setting up about 30 blogs and then attempted to populate them myself. This was not working for me. I now have four full time writers populating those blogs and promoting them for me. So - it was worth my money to pay some one else to do what I could not manage myself, because I could see the long term income potential. But - and this is a big but - I know what will work on those blogs and do not let them deviate too much from that.
If you do not know what is or is not working for you - go find out. Seriously. Because you need to stop doing the things that are not working and concentrate on the things that are.
I Recommend spending a minimum of 10% of your online income experimenting with what you can and cannot comfortably outsource. As you find what is working - your income should be increasing proportionally - then slowly up that to 25%.
So - even if you are only making $50 - I suggest spending $5 of that. You can get things done for $5.
One of my part-time gigs is as a writer/editor for a woman who runs her own website. She actually bought a package deal when she started. Mind you, now she is fluctuating between staying with them--even though there are many things she has learned to do for free on her own that they don't do for her--and breaking off all legal ties and doing everything from her home.
What I have observed and told her is that once you break off all ties with a company that offers a package deal you had then better be ready to deal with everything yourself no matter what else is going on in your life OR already have shopped around for cheaper services for the things you would never wish to do yourself.
I have no clue about my own websites so I just follow her lead. One thing we BOTH agree on is that it's always best to get as many free and nearly free information and software use as possible.
As to the actual question, I would say you are ready for paid programs when you either have money to p*ss away on nothing better and your site is just a hobby OR when you can honestly make enough profit from your website to at least break even once you figure out your costs.
Most of those package deals are a rip-off. They're often more expensive than getting your own hosting and domain - and apart from the initial installation, they're not any easier than doing it yourself with Wordpress. Plus, if you decide to leave, you often can't take your website design so you have to start all over again. Worse, sometimes they own your domain - and if you can't take that with you, you lose all your page rank and all your customers!
Exactly! She shopped around from day one, in fact because she didn't want to deal with some of that b*llsh*t. Right now her only complaints are that it seems to take longer to get help on the weekends when she DOES have a problem.
We also had some writing gigs that were associated with this company and now--for reasons I won't go into -- we have lost those gigs. I seriously think once her personal life is handled/fixed that she will pull out and go solo since she has no other job and her kids will both be off in the military soon.
She has already had legal papers drawn up in fact.
Mind you, she has done her homework, learned how to do a lot on her own and has enough of an income now to afford any paid programs she might choose to still use.
I joined keyword academy a couple of weeks ago and have already learnt so much more about things like backlinking and building traffic and lots of other stuff which i didnt think would be on thier site,not only that but when you ask a question the tow guys who run it email you back with a full answer,very impressed with the site,free for a month as well as they set up a website for you and host it for free and buy your domain name,then its $33 a month to stay a member which i will be!!
I've joined the keyword academy for the first free month. I think it's great so far...
I tried Micro Niche finder ($112 I think it was.) They were very good though and gave me a refund no questions asked because I found it didn't really help me that much.
When you should start? I don't know. I assume when you want to get serious about making money online.
In my early hubber weeks I asked Mark Knowles a question via e-mail that he answered with "Don't spend a dime until you know what you are doing." that is some of the best advice I've ever had, for writing online and for life. I highly recommend that for anyone interested in developing writing as a source of income. Ask yourself the question and answer yourself in all honesty. You can BS the rest of us all you want but be sure to answer yourself with honesty. Then, if you are ready to spend your dime, it will probably be a good investment.
Hey again Following you from one thread to another, lol
Wanted to answer this one because I've recently got to that readiness stage and started buying paid programs to use for my hubpages. To me it seems that the investment is worth the money because within a few months they should start paying for themselves with increased serps = more traffic = more income.
I knew I had enough spare earnings to spend on 2 products so I did some research on which ones would be the best use of my cash. I wanted market samurai and I've also gone for one article syndication service that costs around $50 per month.
So the criteria for me were that my earnings had got to a point where I could just about afford a couple of paid services. I'm serious about earning a full time income online and I also wanted to save time by not having to do everything manually.
My plan is that when my earnings increase a bit more I'm going to start outsourcing some of my article writing as well.
I'm interested that you consider these programs worthwhile even for HubPages. I hope you'll keep us updated as to whether they pay off!
I will! I'm focusing on HP because first off it's really starting to pay and I know I can earn more and secondly with my bits of freelance work I don't have time to create more websites. I've got a few domains but I simply don't have time to put the work in, but over time I think that will change. I'll outsource the content when I'm earning a bit more.
I hadn't realised until I read the more experienced marketers responses but I'm spending out about 10% of my earnings. So that does seem to be a good place to start.
I started with completely free stuff (aside from hosting). After about half a year (and still zero earnings) I started to pay for some education, and to buy some software and services. It was not huge though, probably less than a thousand bucks total for a year or so. Some earnings started to drip in, but still nothing to write home about.
Then I really plunged in with a Stompernet course that costs about 2500. It was sort of a low point, when I was almost ready to let it all go and start looking for job. Yet within a few months things changed, and by the end of the year I was making a pretty penny, though not a full living yet. But then my full living expenses were about $6000 per month, so for the most parts of the world I was making a good living already.
Since then I started to actively pay for things I did not want to do myself, and currently I am paying in the range of $1500-2000 per month.
In a hindsight, I think this $2500 commitment was a sort of motivation that changed my way of thinking and doing things online, and led to what happened after.
Just my 2 cents.
Please excuse me if the following is all gibberish - im 90% asleep.
But since I was writng and thinking about this very topic most of the night..ill try and throw my couple of cents in
This isnt really just a writer/marketer question
its a business question and a self value question
For many of us..the research and promotion aspect is a necessary evil ..not the joy that got us involved.
So its not really fun.
What value is your free time to you?
In any fledgling business .. at what point do you spring for a cash register or an accounting program rather than manually adding everything and keeping manual client records
When do you decide that you should spring for an office or some storage rather than have you house or garage filled with product and packaging
when do you pay someone else to design your business cards or post some flyers around town (even though you can probably figure it out on your own)
i think the moment you have tried and experimented long enough to figure out what your base returns are ...thats an output level..not just a time level..you can then extrapolate what could happen when you scale your efforts.
My income comes from published work - research and promotion doesnt make me a cent.. but if i publish work that doesnt get seen - i dont make a cent either
I think everyone should have a keyword tool (and know how to manually check) the rest of the tools..especially subscription based are powerful but thats up to each business person.
i willingly reinvest a quarter of my monthly profits into any business i participate in - so far that has worked for me.
btw - i think Micro Niche Finder is hands down the strongest most reliable keyword tool, wrylilt, you should have waited til day 59 to decide that it wasnt working for you..because it certainly does work!
i consider the cost of MNF as a 4 hour investment - its $99 and often you can find coupons for $79 ( just loked, dont see any active right now)
hope taht makes sense, tired and terribel at typing
I think what people on hp's really need to know from the experts is " is there a staged way of doing this" without as Misha said jumping in at the deep end. ie. spend alittle; earn a little until you feel comfortable spending $xxxxx amount.
Or if people are happy to earn $100 per month from doing this then the best method is xyz. If you want to earn $500 per month you should follow method a,b,c.
I started on the (essentially) zero investment plan: I only bought a handful of .info domains at $1 each and used free blogger hosting.
I have used these sites and hubpages to build to the stage that I am earning over $200 each month.
I have been very conservative and only just started buying .coms and paying for hosting. I can do this with the confidence of having a thousand dollars in the earnings account. Being able to pay for 3 years of hosting up front is a luxury.
I have not bought any software programs but got a 75 day trial extension of Market Samurai via the challenge.co website (after doing nothing with it the first time I trialled) and am impressed. This may well be my first non domain/hosting purchase.
I don't like to speculate and save my earnings for future purchases. I am also just doing this as a bit of a (money making) hobby and generally only write while watching TV - not quite the level of focus some of the more serious Hubbers achieve.
How soon should you take the step and start spending? I did it when I could comfortably do so with prior earnings. That is not the way to rapidly accelerate earnings but I am happy with the cautious approach and my income continues to increase
Don't buy a hammer if you haven't tried pounding nails with a rock.
Don't buy an oscilloscope if you don't know anything about electronics.
Don't buy a torque wrench if you have no idea why it matters.
What I'm getting at is that sometimes people come into this all gung-ho about how they are going to make gazillions from websites or ebooks or list marketing or whatever and they see an ad for WhizBang Super Keyword Wonder Wheel Spin Meister (great product, by the way - I highly recommend it) and they buy it without having the faintest idea why anyone would ever want such a thing.
When you find yourself annoyed by how difficult it is to do something, when it is taking too long to do something, when you just can't quite get the results you want, THAT is when you buy a tool.
To quote Wrylit:
"I bought it when I was new and confused. Right now I'm just working on doing what I can and get all the tools later... when I understand them!"
I just bought a tool, Market Samurai. I got it on a 10 day free trial (just before it was getting talked about on here and without knowing I could have had a 30 day free trial). I won £100 on the UK premium Bonds and thought to myself, this is worth paying for.
So far, I have mainly used it to go over my existing hubs and see what is wrong (and along the way have found at least another 50 new keywords to write about). Following their advice, I have changed a few minor things on my hubs and seen their rankings and page views soar. I reckon within a couple of months it will have paid for itself.
I guess I was ready for a program like this, though I still haven't bothered to find out ALL of its functions, the ones I'm using now are a life-saver for me. I joined here to make money, and while I'm not there yet, I know I will be, one day.
Market Samurai has also taught me just how powerful a platform Hubpages is. I don't think I appreciated before what a difference it makes having your work published here as opposed to most other platforms out there.
We should appreciate that.
well done on the premium bonds Izzy and goodluck to you with Samarai.
Thanks! Think that was my first ever win and I've held bonds since something like 1963!
I just wish my internet access was faster because MS is so slow! Still it'll get faster later in the year
I was just about to say the same - I used the Market Samurai free trial but although I loved the tool I really hated the speed so I didn't buy it. I used the trial to make an enormous list of keywords in a tight niche. They are my next project and will go on a new HP ID. If I write all those and they do not get the traffic and earnings I expect then I know I've still not got it figured out. If they do work, then I might consider paying for some stuff.
I have so little time to spend hubbing but so many ideas it is driving me nuts that I am unable to see into the future and work out which ones will work without trying them first!
this is good, sound advice for any aspect of life. a lot of wisdom in your words.
How do I put a description tag into Blogger? IN Hubpages its easy enough, just have the keywords in the first line or two but that doesn't seem to work in blogger.
I've been reading up about meta tags and have added them, but according to MS, my two blogs (both on google p1 for their keywords) still don't have a description.
You can add meta information by directly editing your templates html
That's the problem - I did that. I added them exactly as was suggested, only having to change "your description here" or "your keywords here".
Can I copy/paste the HTML here or does something strange happen if I do that?
Anyway, they are in, but MS says they are not not being read so something can;t be right.
You can paste it here - the forum reads BBC - your code is Html
<b:include data='blog' name='all-head-content'/>
<meta content='YOUR DESCRIPTION'/>
<meta content='20 KEYWORDS' name='keywords'/>
<meta content='YOUR NAMEr' name='author'/>
I added in the three meta lines in that position in the html of the page and changed the capitalised words to my own.
I use three paid programs, this is simply because they save me time. I could still do the same stuff for free, but it would take me 3 times as long, and I think I earn more by using that time to write articles.
It's not whether something is free or not.
The real question is "Does it work, and will it be of benefit to me".
You need to use your brains. Things cannot be judged by the simple question of free/not free.
The Wordpress platform that you install on your own hosting is free, and is arguably the best website product for 95% of website owners. I'd certainly pay for it.
There's loads of free information on the net, which is as good as what is available in paid courses and provided by paid mentors.
The trouble is, that it may take a lot of time to find it. Or you may never find it.
How much is your time worth to you?
Some people may be happy gradually experimenting and buildiing up their knowledge over a couple of years.
Others may want to work with a mentor who guides them along the right path from day 1 so that they don't have to spend a couple of years in the wilderness.
It all depends on your situation, and your circumstances.
The benefit of competent, paid assistance (make sure you choose carefully) is that you get access to someone who has actually done what you want to do. It shortens your learning curve, and allows you to be a lot more productive because you don't have to waste hundreds of hours trying and discarding all sorts of things that just don't work anymore.
You are buying the time of someone who can show you exactly what you need to do to achieve the goal you have in mind.
(you DO have a goal or objective don't you? )
In the case of a mentor, you are buying the attention of someone who can show you how to do in 1 hour what it may have taken you a month, or a year, to discover yourself.
Or You are buying the time of someone who knows how to create
a program that takes 1 minute to determine something that would have taken you hours to do manually.
I have both Market Samurai, and Micro Niche Finder and regard one or both of them as essential tools for anyone who wants to create pages that will be found in search engines.
Remember that if the person you are paying is any good, what you are actually buying is thousands of hours of expertise for a fraction of the cost that it took for that person to gain it.
And that person, by providing a service of value, is entitled to be paid for it. They have living expenses, and families to feed too.
The best advice that I could give you is that if you want to pay for a mentor, make sure that they are competent, and that they have done what you want to do.
Follow what they tell you.
Don't take off in ten different directions chasing every piece of golden unicorn droppings that every other internet marketing guruwanker tries to sell you.
Probably the most comprehensive piece of advice on the topic.
Obviously two heads are better than one
It all just flowed like diaorrhea from my fingertips.
(Now THERE'S a mental image for you!
The Warrior Forum war room is great. Only $37 and you get your hands on some incredibly valuable stuff people like me write and then give away for free. We must be mad.
No. War room is just loaded with freebies & info which isn't worthy for intermediate & informed users of HP. Warrior forum is only worth to know about backlink programs,product reviews & advice on whats not working etc. Stay away from make-móney
WSO's in there. Basically sucking newbies with obvious & too much basic information(which you can read on hp/squidoo) is what i hate about warrior forum products. Avoid black-hat techniques mentioned there like autoblogging,e-mail list purchase etc.Almost every make-money membership program there is posting the same thing i.e. niche, keywords,conten,traffic-with same methods rehashed in different words(e.g. a-list blogging,online profits programs). Because of this atleast i'm keeping out of membership program mayhem.
Go with stuff that works like MNF,MS,Bookmarking demon,keyword açademy,angela-tom backlinks,likvana,seolinkvine etc.
I gave up on the warrior forum a long time ago, there is simply too much shod on there, inaccurate information, and experts who seem devoid of even basic knowledge in the world of SEO. Things may have changed, but I would not be surprised if it was still full of people trying to make a quick buck off one another.
I think this is true in regards to information, there are vast resources out there to help you learn about SEO.
However, there are some good products out there which can help make the most out of your work.
This was a brilliant thread on buying paid programs. I see 5 months ago I'd just got MS, and it really did make a huge difference to my earnings and understanding of SEO.
Now I'm considering getting Bookmarking Demon. I am tired of backlinking and manual promotion, and anyway I have so many hubs now it's becoming a real burden.
Anyone got any input?
That is probably the most awkward piece of software I have ever purchased. I dislike it intensely. But I know people who use it regularly. If you decide you want it - I will sell you my license at half price because I hate it.
No that is off-putting! I don't want awkward programs - I need things to be straightforward and simple, a bit like myself.
Drop me a line then - I will point you at some far simpler options.
Izzy, I just started using the free tool at IMAutomator for Bookmarking. Very, very simple. I don't know how successful it will be, but I'm testing right now.
Not quite ready for it yet, going to have my AdSense pay for it, but just looked at one video so far at the Micro Niche Finder website and from what I witnessed.... I feel like with my knowledge of internet marketing and its application that I have been grasping at straws that are 100 feet away, are in a dark room and I am blind folded and have been spun around 30 times and THEN told, go find the straws.
I haven't got MNF, but from all accounts it's a great program that is easy to use and fast. I chose MS simply because it had a free trial and I was skint at the time. I must say I love MS even if it is a system hog. Maybe if I'd downloaded MNF I'd have loved it too, but don't see the point in having both programs.
Thanks for reviving this thread, Izzy! I'd forgotten about it, and it's a good time to revisit it.
I had also forgotten Mark's advice about investing 10% of your income. I need to take that to heart as I'm not doing anywhere near that.
I'm also wondering how Susana got on with her paid programs!
I hestitated to do so Marisa, because of the big warning that came up on the screen advising I start a new thread as this one was old, but I loved re-reading it and the info on it was great.
It may help newbies or those who are just starting to be successful.
I think Susana is doing great, but I, too , would like to hear how much she thinks this is due to paid programs and how much to do with HP's high platform.
Edit: and her own brilliant writing ability too of course
I think this forum will run and run. You have to decide which came first, the chicken or the egg. Sooner or later you have to take the plunge if you are serious and want to move from £100 a month to $100 a week or more. I am in this dilemma myself. I bought MS a couple of months ago and been using regularly. It did take a few weeks for me to get to grips with it though and I really only know keyword research, search engine traffic and the value of each KW.
I have also over the past two weeks been advised to invest in Unique Article Wizard for back linking purposes. I have done my first few hubs, again it takes a bit of getting used to but that said I will stick with it for 3- 4 months to see how it goes. Just to early at the moment for any feedback. You can only go so far on your own, and that time is now for me.
You could also say the same with getting your own website, I am giving this real thought at the moment, remember Mark saying, diversify or risk dying by backing only one horse. We all know it is the right thing to do, but when there is a cost involved you go from thinking this is my hobby to thinking I really want this, I am in business to make money.
Our posts must have crossed Getting MS was pivotal - I've learned loads from using it and their training videos are fab. It also helped me understand how powerful HP is is a platform in terms of assessing competition and knowing what pages can be beaten. I'm getting results from the article syndication tool too, but I don't want to do into that lest I get bashed by the no backlinking crew
The next program I want to buy is an RSS submitter....maybe next month when I get my December earnings from amazon
That's interesting, which article syndication tool are you using?
I use myarticlenetwork.
If anyone wants to try it I have an affiliate link
@ Bill - I use paid services to save me time. I agree that you need to know how to do things manually before you start buying stuff though
I'm glad you revived this thread too Izzy - it really helped me decide how much to money to invest in paid services.
Marisa - it's working out well! It's taken a few months to see any results from my investment but I've been clearing $1000 or more per month from hubpages for the last 4 months and I put a lot of that down to market samurai helping me find good keywords. I really feel that the sky's the limit now with what I can earn online....just wish it wasn't such a slow process!
Most people pay too much for programs and software they don't even know how to use correctly in the hopes it will somehow do the work for you.
Most people should be very careful about paying for any services. One of the most common things newbies pay for is traffic. Buying traffic often is just throwing your money away.
That's because you don't know how to use it or what type of traffic to get. One million visits to my sites from China does nothing for me.
The only sure things you should pay for is your own domain and your own hosting plan for your own websites. Don't go cheap on the hosting, it's one of the most important things you will buy.
Other than those two things there is not too much else you should pay for. I only pay for a few writers as I have too many sites to keep updated with fresh content myself.
I also recently bought the Genesis wordpress theme framework as it's worth it for the look and ease of use. Other than a few simple basic programs like video editors for my video and so on that is all I pay for.
I do NOT recommend anyone pay for:
2. SEO service
4. Whatever is the current "new best thing" on the market.
Actually the one thing almost all people should pay for if they could actually find this, is a good webmaster that knows a bit about everything. All those years of little tips and tricks and what to avoid.
Have him/her sit down with you for a day or two and go over all that stuff they know, saving you hours of time and trial and error.
But, that service is something you pretty much can't find anywhere.
While I agree that no-one should buy something when they don't understand how it all works, I don't think any of the popular programs pay for traffic, do they? What would be the point of that?
Nor backlinks, because programs that send out your backlinks are only an automation of what you can do yourself but can take hours and is extremely boring.
So, not paying for backlinks but a service. And by SEO service I take it you mean MNF and MS? Or not. Again they are only tools that you have to work with.
And I don't know any webmasters but I do feel I am rapidly becoming one myself. It's been a huge learning curve all the same, and I know I still don't know everything I need to know, nor anywhere near it.
Traffic ?- So one should not sign up for MSN adcenter, google adwords, facebook PPC and Yahoo advertising ? These are paid traffic sources.
SEO Service ? Please be specific. You mean MNF, MS and Scribe ?
Backlinks ? this one is debated topic on forums, so i'll not ask why no backlinks for even your own site. SEO on hubpages and your own site differs by miles.
By paying for traffic I mean all those hundreds of sites that offer 10,000 hits for 5 bucks, they are worthless.
As for the others you mention skyfire, I firmly believe unless you really know what your doing, how to narrow the traffic to your niche, you end up paying more than you make from it.
I've tried adwords many times for my own retail site as well as Yahoo!. I always paid more than I made from them. If I can't make anything from them a newbie sure is not.
I do think many can make money using them, but it takes a lot to make a little. I know many who pay over $500.00 bucks a day with adwords just to make a real profit of $50.00.
As for SEO I mean those dozens of sites that offer to optimize your site with good keywords, placements, links and all that stuff for a fee.
Those again often are worthless and they only do what anyone can do themselves.
As for MS and other keyword tools, some can be worthwhile, as long as you know how to use them. Myself I use Google adtools, trends and other means to target my keywords, all free.
BTW I do think you should get many backlinks for your own websites. But not by paying a service for them. Often they actually get you banned or down graded.
Most of the experienced hubbers recommending programs are probably affiliates making money when you sign up.
I'm sure some of these programs help some people, and it is a matter of personal preference as Mark says. Personally I don't bother with them because paid links are rarely worth the money and have a risk of having a negative effect, and with things like market samurai I think people can end up spending half their time analysing stats and stuff instead of actually writing / working. I don't even use analytics partly for the same reason. I'd rather just use common sense and spend my time writing and doing basic backlinking than researching and analysing.
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