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A Writing Site Review: InfoBarrel
A Review of InfoBarrel
If you create Hubs on Hubpages, lenses on Squidoo, or have other online pages that you want to promote, then it's likely you are constantly on the lookout for writing sites that will allow you to increase your revenue or promote your other content. There are of course an ever increasing number of writing sites that will vie for your attention.
You, the writer, will provide all the content these sites need in return for either a small cash payment, a backlink or two, or perhaps some shared revenue from Google AdSense or a variety of other ad or affiliate related sites.
Choosing a good one can be difficult but thinking through what you need from a writing site can help you assess each one as it comes along.
Here is a very brief checklist that I keep in the back of my mind and with it, my current assessment of one of the sites I've most recently begun using: InfoBarrel. Please keep in mind that this is a preliminary review and I will be updating it after I have been on the site for a few months.
It may be shameful to admit, but often my primary purpose in identifying another writing site to use is to be able to promote my existing Squidoo lenses and Hubs on Hubpages. I have no intention of spamming anyone, so my goal actually is to be able to establish some backlinks so that my Hubs and Lenses gain more authority and rise in searches for the keywords I've identified.
This is simple enough to assess. I don't want just any backlink, I want a Do Follow backlink. Some sites, such as Bukisa only offer me a NoFollow backlink. That's not enough for me, especially when I know there are a number of other sites that can give me what I want.
InfoBarrel gives me what I am looking for on this point. I am allowed up to two Do Follow backlinks within every article that I write. These will have to be contextual backlinks within the body of the article, which is great for me. It makes it easy for me to craft the article and use the specific keywords I wish when linking back to my lens or Hub. I can not place these links in the first paragraph of my article, but anywhere else is fine.
Ease of Use
Success online depends upon writing and that requires time and volume. I really can't afford to struggle with complexity, slow navigation and so forth. Everything a site can do to make the process faster is a plus.
As an example I will cite RedGage which is a social networking site. Now I love RedGage, but it is incredibly slow, often bogs down completely, and has poor navigation that requires multiple clicks to go from point A to point B. I use the site for it's social networking, but would never consider it for writing purposes.
InfoBarrel meets my needs in this respect as well. It offers up several templates to make crafting your articles easier. For instance it has a format for how to articles, review articles, and so forth. Each article that you write must be placed in a category to make it easier to discover. When I'm unsure of which category to use, I can perform a search to discover the one that seems the best match. I've found this to be very useful.
The text editor is also very familiar and is much the same as is used on Hubpages. I don't have to take the time to insert HTML to perform simple functions like using bold, italics, bullet points, and so forth. You can also insert photos and other media to give your articles a better presentation.
Whether I'm working online or out in the real world, customer service and good communication matters to me. I don't want to experience a problem and be unable to get assistance or at least some type of response. I want e-mail, chat, or phone support. A forum is good in many instances, but sometimes I need "the man" to resolve things.
Thus far, I'm pleased with InfoBarrel on this point as well. I must have been feeling needy in my first 48 hours on the site. But on two occasions I e-mailed the site with a question. In both cases, my question was answered completely to my satisfaction within 24 hours with an e-mail response.
Another thing that this site offers is InfoBarrel University which made it easy for me to find answers to my questions without searching.
Success online depends in part on maximizing your revenue potential. Ultimately you want multiple streams of income (I have online friends who just get goosebumps when I use that phrase). You want to be sure that you get all of the revenue you can out of every piece of work you create.
So, when I look for a writing site I want more than just backlinks, I want a bit of revenue as well. I guess I just want it all. This may come in the form of an upfront payment for the article, the chance to place ads on my article, or revenue sharing opportunities.
Again, InfoBarrel has fared well in my assessment of it's revenue generating potential. At this early stage, I can say that InfoBarrel allows writers to earn through Chitika ads, Amazon, and Google AdSense ads placed on their articles. The AdSense revenue sharing is 75% to 90%. A writer earns 75% but can boost the percentage via their writing activity. More articles means a higher percentage. Writers can also earn 2% on the ad commissions earned by writers that they refer to the site.
What I can't yet assess is the potential traffic to articles posted on InfoBarrel but clearly part of that will depend on my ability to write articles that get search engine attention or visits by other InfoBarrel writers.
Another thing I tend to consider when choosing a writing site is it's authority. I believe this relates to the sites ability to drive traffic to my pages and subsequently to my other content as well as it's ability to generate revenue directly.
Clearly getting backlinks from a site with a page rank of 9 would be preferable to getting a backlink from a site with a page rank of 2. Of course, authority and page rank will hopefully increase overtime, so I don't rule out a writing site that has a lower score, but all things equal, I'll lean toward the site with the higher page rank.
Traffic too will be important. Those backlinks will become even more meaningful if I have plenty of visitors to potentially click through to my site, lenses, and hubs. If the writing site ranks well and brings in traffic, my articles may get an automatic boost in their individual traffic as well.
InfoBarrel isn't quite there yet. The home page has a 4/10 page rank. This isn't great, but it's not bad either. Time will tell how things progress as the content grows. For comparison, the Xomba home page has a page rank of 4/10 as well, Bukisa 5/10, Hubpages 6/10, and Squidoo 8/10. I definitely don't see this as a strike against InfoBarrel at this point, but do feel that in 3 or 4 months it should progress to at least a 5/10.
Another source of traffic is an active community of writers. A good community also offers networking opportunities and a chance to learn more from the expertise of others. Writing on a new site gives a writer a whole new audience. It provides a chance to establish a broader reach.
For me, a good writing site allows you to comment and rate the content of others and interact in general.
Thus far, InfoBarrel appears to do an adequate job in this area as well. I have not been there long enough yet to fully assess the community aspect of it however. In the past week, I've been able to meet a handful of people and interact a bit through comments and subscribing to their feeds. I have not yet been in the forum but I do know that there is one available.
Learn More About Writing Online
This isn't an exhaustive list of the things an internet marketer might want to consider when looking at writing sites, but it's a good start. This assessment of InfoBarrel is admittedly not detailed at this point as that isn't possible after having used it for only a week. However, at this early date, I would still recommend it without reservation.
To make this review even more valuable, I will update my report during the next quarter once I have more experience with the site.