Better to Work at Taco Bell or Write Articles on Hubpages?

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Which Method is Better to Create Passive Income?

After publishing 124 articles on hubpages, I wondered:

"Would working a minimum wage job and investing the paycheck earn more passive income than writing on hubpages?"

So, I worked out the math. I explain my methods and numbers. This will be easy to follow.

Hubpages Effort and Reward

As of my 3-year anniversary, I published 125 hubs, asked 20 questions (Seriously, I'm not making that up.), and posted 276 responses to queries. Here is my estimate of how long it takes to produce each of these, and the total times:

Secrets to Investing with Success

Millionaire Teacher: The Nine Rules of Wealth You Should Have Learned in School
Millionaire Teacher: The Nine Rules of Wealth You Should Have Learned in School

The audio, paperback, and Kindle versions of this book are all in the top 10 on more than one list on Amazon. It has an average 4.7 review, too. That is high for Amazon reviewers, who are notoriously rough.

 
HP Activity
Average time for 1
Number Completed
Total Time (hrs)
Write a Hub
2 hours
124
248
Ask a Question
3 minutes
25
1.25
Answer a Question
5 mins.
276
23
Hopping Hubs
 
 
6
Creating Backlinks
10 mins
12
2
Commenting
1.5 minutes
300
7.5
 
 
 
287.75

Total Hours Invested in Hubpages

The total time invested into Hubpages to earn Adsense revenue is then 287.75 hours. Since this is not exactly down-to-the-second accurate estimating, the engineer part of me dictates using 300 hours for the comparison.

This does not count the 20 times per day that I check my "daily views" count. This is a waste of time, and a disciplined person should not do it. But, it's exciting, so I keep doing it. But, it's better than lotto, right?

What if I Worked 300 Hours at Taco Bell?

So, how much would this same 300 hours earn at minimum wage as an hourly worker at Taco Bell?

In California, the state minimum wage is $8 per hour (unless you are union, in which case you must subtract dues, and then earn less than minimum wage.) Withholding from paychecks for minimum wage earners is 4.2% for SSI and 1.45% for Medicare. This sums to 5.65%, or .0565. This means you keep .9435 of your wages. (1.00 - .0565 = .9435).

300 hours x $8 x .9435 = $2,264.40

Working part time, 10 hours per week, this take-home pay can be earned in 30 weeks.

Would you work at Taco Bell as a way to earn some investment principal?

  • Yes.
  • I'm too cool and look bad in polyester.
  • No.
See results without voting

Invest Your Income

So, if your secondary, passive income stream is to be generated by the Taco Bell earnings, they must be invested. To keep working does not fit our model: We want to earn passive income in this analysis.

So, the idea is to earn a lump of cash, not spend any of it (= hide it from the spenders in the family), and then invest it in a no-risk vehicle for earnings.

Best Online Certificate of Deposit Interest Rates

Certificates of Deposit pay a little better than savings or checking accounts online. Locally, banks pay .035 percent (=.00035) on such accounts. So, an online account is best.

The best rate for a CD I located is at Ally Bank. They reward 1.03% (=.0103) annually. So, depositing the entire sum earned at Taco Bell, the annual interest (passive income) becomes:

$2,264.40 x .0103 = $23.32 per year, or $1.94 per month, or 6.4 cents per day.

Comparing Periodic Rates

So, the person who has invested 300 hours into Hubpages and earns less than 6.4 cents per day (45 cents per week), would have done better to work Taco Bell and buy a CD (or some other no-risk investment product) at Ally Bank or any other bank or credit union.

In the last year, I earned 182.45. I am offsetting the fact that most of the work was completed in recent months with the fact that less activity (especially publishing new content) correlates with a drop in Adsense revenue on both hubpages and Blogger.

182.45 / 365 days = 50.0 cents per day, or $3.50 per seven days. (I actually received $6.31 for the most recent 7 days- but have published a number of hubs recently.)

Update (December 11, 2013): I now have 143 articles and make about 60 cents per day. This equals $219 per year.

Update (February 16, 2015): I now have 72 active articles online making money. I receive about 22.7 cents per day. I also increased the Amazon links on my biggest traffic articles and make another 47 cents per week through book and item sales. This is $107.30 per year.

Hubpages Wins

So, 50 cents beats 6.4 cents in the daily contest. And, hubpages annual earnings for the 300 invested hours of $182.45 beats $23.32 as the passive earnings of the invested minimum wage earnings. And, you didn't have to wear polyester!

Fashion faux pas aside, the analysis so far has ignored the value of the Taco Bell earnings, the $2,264.40 earned working 10 hours per week for 30 weeks.

Present Value

In engineering and accounting, a series of value equations convert the worth of payments into a present value. So, to make an equal comparison I must convert both passive incomes to present value. The first value is the lifetime earnings of writing online to earn money. The second value is the invested money earned working at Taco Bell.

Present Value of My Hub Pages Account

This calculation assumes the account will continue to receive the average daily revenue without any additional work input.

Present value (P) can be determined from the Annual amount (A).

P = A*[((1+i)^n - 1)/(i*(1+i)^n]

A = $182.45

n = number of years to receive payment. Assume the owner is the typical hubber: female and 30 years old. The average American female born in 1982 will live an average 79 years. This means 49 years to collect. So, n = 49. The interest rate (i), must be calculated somehow. So, I just valued the work invested into the hubpages account as equivalent to the Taco Bell earnings, and then calculated the interest that would give $182.45 per year.

So, i = .0806 for the hubpages income.

Plug all the variables' values into the equation, and the Present Value of the HP account is $2,211.29

Present Value of the Taco Bell Earnings CD

Using the same equation, the Taco Bell variables are:

n = 49 A = $2,264.40 i = .0103

Solving for P, we get $894.56

However, in the Taco Bell case, there is also the principal. In the hubber revenue, this value is fictitious. In the Taco Bell case, the money actually exists. This makes the value of the invested Taco Bell earnings:

$2,264.40 + $894.56 = $3,158.96

Final Comparison of Value

My HP account is then worth $2,211.29

The Taco Bell earnings, invested in online certificate of deposit accounts is $3,158.96

The difference is 947.67 dollars. This is the amount I lost by investing my 300 hours into building a hubpages account vice working minimum wage and investing in the Ally Bank online CD.

A Straight Comparison

What if we ignore present value (that business accounting valuation) and just sum lifetime earnings?

Well, the math gets easier!

HP account = $182.45 x 49 = $8,940.05

Taco Bell = $2,264.40 + $23.32 x 49 = $3407.08

The difference now is $5,532.97 in favor of the Hubpages account.

A little algebra solves for the number of years until the Taco Bell method and the Hubpages method have earned equal totals: 14.22 years.

Summary & Discussion

Obviously, there are some important assumptions and variables involved in these two valuations. If these change, the values change as well. for example, a 4-year CD can pay as much as 1.80% in online investing. Will Taco Bell actually hire a 10-hour per week hourly?

Also, to make the comparison, each person evaluating the decision must consider personal ability to execute the chosen plan. Most people will spend the extra Taco Bell income, not invest it. Some people (most??) are better writers than me.

Taco Bell Better in Short Term

A short stint as a minimum wage earner produces money faster than writing online. If invested, it can produce a nice passive income. If the process is repeated year after year, the hourly rate will increase. And, when larger amounts are invested, a higher annual yield can be found.

Hubpages Better Plan for Long Run

If you want to work 300 hours in the next several months, and receive a passive income from that work, writing for hubpages appears the better course. Writing also fits into busy schedules better (e.g. moms and on-call repair workers). Not everyone can take a second job, even 10 hours per week.

Advice for Myself and Readers:

Some hubbers earn much more than I earn after my 300 hour investment. This is surely accountable to the effectiveness of published hubs. The next investment should be in reading and studying effective techniques of profitable online writers.

Update: January 1, 2013

I moved in November out of the country. I stopped publishing new articles on Hubpages.

Result: I lost almost all my views from Hubpages. My views per day had been above 500 per day. They dropped to below 50 per day. The graph moderates the real view count. I think it averages views for 30 days before and after, or something like that. Otherwise, my graph would show day counts above 700 some days, and only a few dozen in December, 2012.

So, it appears to me that Hubpages encourages active writers by favoring them with increased views from other hubbers. I reason these views come by links appearing at the end of related articles, and elsewhere.

I published a new hub, and my daily views instantly increased more than a hundred per day. I am now hovering around 150 views per day.

My view count from the beginning until now. Note the correlation between not publishing new hubs and view count.
My view count from the beginning until now. Note the correlation between not publishing new hubs and view count. | Source

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Comments 32 comments

tipstoretireearly profile image

tipstoretireearly 4 years ago from New York

Interesting analysis! I've wondered if writing for HubPages could generate an income similar to a minimum wage job, and your analysis indicates that it can (at least in the long run)! And your analysis doesn't even include the most important benefit of writing for HubPages: the learning and fun that comes with it. Voted up!


Man from Modesto profile image

Man from Modesto 4 years ago from Kiev, Ukraine (formerly Modesto, California) Author

tips: I agree with you. Another important factor related to learning is increasingly profitable hubs. Writers here teach one another. Individual writers improve, and the Internet status of hubpages also increases through the supportive environment here.

So, if the Taco Bell job is repeated for another 300 hours, the same results should be expected (with a slightly higher wage, perhaps). If the hubber posts another 125 articles, a superior result should be expected. (For example, my 6 Bible quizzes have failed to draw views.)


cprice75 profile image

cprice75 4 years ago from USA

I know which of the two choices is more enjoyable and more intellectually stimulating...and it ain't Taco Bell. Voted up and useful. Sharing.


luisj305 profile image

luisj305 4 years ago from Florida

Interesting read, I like that the actual numbers are there to see. Really though, I have got to get working or the guy in polyester is going to have more money than me this time next year...


Man from Modesto profile image

Man from Modesto 4 years ago from Kiev, Ukraine (formerly Modesto, California) Author

cprice & luis, you two gave me some good laughs! Thanks.


mary615 profile image

mary615 4 years ago from Florida

Your math got a little too complicated for me, so I just skipped down to your final numbers (I never was good at math). This is very interesting. I think to make money with HubPages, you have to be a long time (over 2 years), and pump out lots and lots of Hubs. As a senior citizen, I think I started too late to make serious money, but I have a good time writing here. I voted this UP, and shared.


Lastheart profile image

Lastheart 4 years ago from Borikén the great land of the valiant and noble Lord

Great for applying math in daily life. I learned and try to teach that "eggs should be kept in different baskets". Voted up and more.


Living Well Now profile image

Living Well Now 4 years ago from Near Indianapolis

Hmm...if you factor in job-related expenses such as transportation and uniforms, HP comes out looking even better. If writing for HP is your full-time job, then you have to consider tax deductions you need to do your HP "job" like Internet service, computers, etc. I'm wondering how that works out...


samsons1 profile image

samsons1 4 years ago from Tennessee

Well, 'nough said! How interesting, yet funny. Like your comparisons + I don't look well in polyester either. Voted up, useful, funny and interesting...


Man from Modesto profile image

Man from Modesto 4 years ago from Kiev, Ukraine (formerly Modesto, California) Author

I actually worked at Taco Bell as a high school sophomore. The polyester does not breathe at all!


smithed profile image

smithed 4 years ago

Sure in the long term hubpages is better, but my laptop doesn't provide me with free tacos.


gogogo 4 years ago

I think regardless of our math, how much did you actually earn working for hubpages.


somethgblue profile image

somethgblue 4 years ago from Shelbyville, Tennessee

Just in the valuable time it takes to continue to grow a brain I got to vote for Hub Pages on those merits alone. One should never underestimate the potential of growing your brain as opposed to working at TOXIC SMELL.

I notice you didn't adjust the fast food job earnings with transportation costs to and from while of course HP's requires none.

Further more the earnings from those 124 will continue long after your Toxic Hell earnings have dwindled.


penlady profile image

penlady 4 years ago from Sacramento, CA

Interesting analysis.

I tell you what: you can have more peace working with Hubpages than you can Taco Bell. You don't have to deal with rude customers. Give me Hubpages over the Bell!


Man from Modesto profile image

Man from Modesto 4 years ago from Kiev, Ukraine (formerly Modesto, California) Author

Blue: the idea with the "toxic smell" earnings is to invest every penny. This is part of the comparison I make here because the idea is to create a passive income. The min. wage earnings (can be at Bed, Bath & Beyond or Penney's or anywhere else), so the earnings become the principal of an investment.

To make this comparison more realistic, we need data from someone who let their account sit idle for a year or more: How much did their revenue change?


somethgblue profile image

somethgblue 4 years ago from Shelbyville, Tennessee

Yes that would be interesting but I'm not your guinea pig on that idea, too much work put in so far . . . it was nice of you to give us an idea of how much you have earned so far on 124 articles.

I'm at 88 articles 25,000 page views and roughly 80.00 bucks, wouldn't it be nice to double or triple the page views while putting out less material.

For instance I was at 10,000 after 53 Hub articles and now I'm at 25,000 after 88 articles, so if the trend continues by the time I get to 124 'hopefully I'll be over 50,000 and maybe closing in on the magic 100,000!


Man from Modesto profile image

Man from Modesto 4 years ago from Kiev, Ukraine (formerly Modesto, California) Author

blue: I actually did a statistical regression on data from the top hubbers. There is only one thing that in any way correlates with income: number of hubs. Followers, ranking, accolades, and other quantifiable aspects made no difference. The number of hubs is not a perfect correlation, but it is a good indicator, AND here is why I'm sharing this in response to your comment:

The relationship is exponential.

This is likely in part because of experience; writers do not repeat unproductive topics. And, there is always learning the art of the written word to lend an effect.


somethgblue profile image

somethgblue 4 years ago from Shelbyville, Tennessee

I get the concept more Hubs more potential for folks to see and respond to advertising. I also agree with 'learning' the art of the written word, telepathy would ruin our business.

So far I haven't come close to running out of topics to write about, the question now is . . . am I getting any better?


Man from Modesto profile image

Man from Modesto 4 years ago from Kiev, Ukraine (formerly Modesto, California) Author

Actually, I have decided to conduct a one-month experiment from June 18, 2012 to July 17, 2012. I've screen captured my account report, and will do so again on July 17, 2012. I'm staying completely away until then.


supermom_in_ny profile image

supermom_in_ny 4 years ago from NY

Great hub! You answered a question I have been asking myself for years. In my case, making money online is more cost efficient than working outside of the home because I would have to pay for after school care. Thanks for taking the time to do the research and write the hub. :)


Mhatter99 profile image

Mhatter99 4 years ago from San Francisco

I'm glad I wasn't the only one to see the humor. Liked so much I FBed it.


chrissieklinger profile image

chrissieklinger 4 years ago from Pennsylvania

Enjoyed your analysis. Hubpages is definitely better than a minimum wage job in so many ways:)


Crystal Tatum profile image

Crystal Tatum 4 years ago from Georgia

Well, I've never been great with math, and I got lost about two-thirds of the way through, but I'm glad HubPages won! It's more fun than working at Taco Bell I think!


Redberry Sky profile image

Redberry Sky 4 years ago

Best. Hub. Ever. But according to your statistical regression, I should go and write hubs *furiously*. There's just one point I must take issue with - you say "some (most??) people are better writers than me". Not true. You are far too modest, Mr Modesto :)


prospectboy profile image

prospectboy 4 years ago from Texas

I've never been good at math, and I got kinda lost while reading the math equations etc, but I do get the general idea. I view Hubpages as more of a long term investment. I probably wouldn't if we could cash out our earnings after $5 dollars or so. However, since we have to earn a decent amount before cashing in, it's definitely more of a long term investment. Besides nothing beats actually doing something you like, even if the money isn't the best. Nice hub here. Definitely sharing this. Voted up useful and interesting.


Jeannieinabottle profile image

Jeannieinabottle 4 years ago from Baltimore, MD

Wow, this is a lot of math. What this has really taught me is maybe I should work at Taco Bell and work on HubPages at the same time. Do they give free food at Taco Bell? That is an added bonus right there. Hmmmm... this has given me a lot to think about. Voted up!


ElizaDoole profile image

ElizaDoole 4 years ago from London

Great hub. I love this analysis as it takes into account that old chestnut about getting a part time job to support writing. I guess the benefits of being completely self employed come into play as well! Voted up and thanks.


CyberShelley profile image

CyberShelley 4 years ago

Good analysis, but of course I love writing for HP, not too sure about loving Taco Bell. Good work here, which I enjoyed. Up, interesting and useful.


whowas 4 years ago

I think that was great fun - and a great distraction form writing, too! Although, I have to say that I am going to take all that with a pinch of salt, bearing in mind the oft repeated saying, 'there are lies, damned lies...and statistics!' ;)


His princesz profile image

His princesz 4 years ago

Wow... great thinking! Thanks for the algebra tip manfrommodesto. I actually wondered if my time is worth here. It's clear to me now. :)


Joshua 3 years ago

Someone working at Taco Bell being part of a union? Hahahahahahaha. You must never have worked at ANY fast food place because absolutely NONE of them are unionized, so therefore your calculations are incorrect.


Man from Modesto profile image

Man from Modesto 3 years ago from Kiev, Ukraine (formerly Modesto, California) Author

In California, the state minimum wage is $8 per hour (unless you are union, in which case you must subtract dues, and then earn less than minimum wage.)

Read that clip again. It is just a side note about how unions can actually cause workers to receive less than minimum wage because of union dues.

My first job (age 12) was in a welding shop, racking steel pipe for 10 hours a day. My second job was Taco Bell.

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