My HubPages 7 Deadly Sins
This is not your typical HubPages tutorial. In fact, this is an anti-tutorial.
It will not be sweet, inspirational or reassuring. It will not make you want to ride a magical rainbow. But it will be honest. In this article I will describe my HubPages "deadly sins" for which I'm banished to writers' hell where the traffic is abysmal, the earnings are non-existent, and the links are always broken.
1. Not writing more.
Six years ago, when I first started on HubPages, I've had wildly unrealistic expectations about creating passive income with this site, so fairly soon I became discouraged and only posted new articles sporadically.
In all of year 2010, I only published three hubs. In 2011 I published one! In 2012 – three again.
I now have about 80 articles but the writers who are successful here have hundreds, even thousands of hubs. This isn't so much about the quantity as it is about the consistency. Theoretically, posting 1-2 hubs weekly keeps you in good graces with flaky Google, and your readers - engaged.
2. Not interacting more.
As an introvert, I'm generally antisocial, and as a writer, I'm pretty self-centered. In fact, that was one of the things that initially attracted me to HP - that the site isn't interaction-based like some other writing platforms where your income is directly correlated with how much interaction you can take.
HubPages is different, I thought. Technically, all you have to do is write, and if you're good, the traffic will come, and eventually, the money will follow. This is how naive I was 6 years ago.
It's still true that on HubPages interaction with other members is optional and, strictly speaking, not linked to your earnings, but it's a lot more important than I assumed in the beginning. In fact, it's pretty damn essential. Not so much in terms of traffic, but in terms of feeling connected and appreciated for the hard work that you put into your articles. Without it you're just a soon-to-be burnout who writes in a vacuum.
3. Not writing better articles.
In all honesty, most of my early work is either generic, pretentious or only relevant to a small number of people.
When I started writing online, my goal was to make my articles look and sound like other people's articles, as if I could imitate my way into writing. Bad idea. Devoid of original thought, these "masterpieces" were destined to fall flat on their comically serious faces. I've eventually deleted all of them out of sheer embarrassment.
4. Not finding a niche.
As my friend Mel Carriere noted reflecting on his experience writing on HubPages and blogging, finding your writing niche can make all the difference. Part of it has to do with search engines favoring specific keywords, but it's also the fact that there's so much content out there...Almost any topic I come up with yields about 200,000 search results, and even if I do write a unique article with my own take on it, it won't be anywhere near the first couple of pages of Google search.
The closest I got to my "niche" was writing spiritual personal experience pieces, like "Inside the Inipi: Sweat Lodge of the Lakota People" - still one of my more popular hubs written 5 years ago.
Then there are unexpected successes, like "How to Write a Captivating First Sentence (with Examples)" that inspired an immediate surge of traffic and praise (including Editor's Choice and Hub Of The Day) that soon died down never to be resurrected.
And then there's my "golden child" - "10 Signs You Have a Toxic Mother-in-Law". For some reason, that one struck a cord with so many women! No other article made that kind of impact. I’ve tried to understand why…what was different about it? How did I write it? Well…it all came from experience. I did almost zero research on it. It was something I went through myself and was still going through. It’s concise and biting. It makes an effort to connect with the reader. It covers a universal theme – bad mothers-in-law. So maybe that's a secret to writing a good (popular) article - make it personal to you, write about what disturbs you, hurts you, inspires you.
I still write about whatever I find interesting or personal at the moment, completely irreverent to the SEO gods.
5. Not promoting my articles more.
Like many writers, I suck at marketing and promoting my own work. That's because I still live in the past when writing was all that was required of writers. Now it seems like if you're not promoting your articles (books, blogs, reviews, what have you) you might as well be writing and throwing it directly into a cosmic wastebasket.
Sad as it is, in some ways writing skills are becoming secondary to marketing skills. So get yourself an Article Wizard that will take care of that tedious writing business, and get straight to the marketing phase! Sooner or later, if you're aggressive enough or annoying enough, you'll get the exposure you need.
If only I followed my own advice! The most I do is post a link on Facebook, watch it get a few likes, and move on to the next thing.
6. Not setting specific goals.
It's important to set goals for yourself, not just in writing but in life. I've never done that. I've had hopes and dreams, but never goals. I can come up with ideas - easily - but meticulously executing them, having a structure, a schedule, a routine - that's the hard part.
Now I understand that you need goals to keep you motivated when you're ready to throw in a towel, to keep yourself disciplined, and to track your progress. Because another big problem with not having goals is: you can't tell if you're moving up, or moving at all.
7. Not branching out beyond HubPages.
This is perhaps my biggest and most regrettable deadly sin. As frustrating and unrewarding as it is, HubPages still managed to become my writing "comfort zone". No pitching ideas and getting rejected, no dealing with capricious editors, no waiting, no drama, minimal maintenance and usually only positive reinforcement from the HP community.
Also - no money, no readership, no growth (other than the natural writing skill development that comes from keeping at it), and no pride after publishing something new. It was easy. I just pushed a button.
What about you?
Do you think HubPages helped you or hindered your progress?
Why I'm Still Here
I'm stubborn. Once I start something, I need to see it to some kind of conclusion, so I'm still here.
Don't get me wrong - my time on HP wasn't entirely bleak and unproductive. I've met some talented people who inspire me and remind me to keep going. I enjoy the freedom to write about anything I want. And I did learn a lot as far as writing online goes.
I've also managed to land a few writing projects outside my HubPages "efforts," in some small part due to the fact that I continued writing through my frustration and disillusionment. Even though I published sporadically and impractically, I never really got out of habit of writing. In part, I have to thank HP for that.
But for god's sake, pay your writers more! I don't care what Google comes up with next to weed out weak content - Panda, Giraffe or some other innocent animal stick figure, but there's got to be a better reward system in place. As of now, there's barely any incentives for me to keep writing and publishing on HubPages.
And I wonder sometimes: What could have been if I wasn't pouring all my writing juices into HubPages? If once in a while I took a leap and tried a different route? If I wasn't scared of being rejected or criticized or worse...ignored? What if...I worked harder, risked more, expected less?
Someone once said: "Life begins at the end of your comfort zone." It's time for me to spread my wings and stop being so damn comfortable. I'm a published author, for god's sake.
What's next - books, magazines, journals, blogosphere, travel writing? I don't know yet. But it's time to leave my writing "nest." I'll still be around - and I'll still publish hubs once in a while. I just won't be comfortable.
A little shameless self-promotion: This is the book I co-authored while taking a break from HubPages
© 2015 Lana Adler