The Most Important Do's and Don'ts of Hubpages
I am often given compliments on the quality of my writing. But I didn't learn how to be great over night. Many things I learned to do, and not do, happened through a long process of trial and error. Without rambling (one of my Don'ts!), here is my list of Dos and Don'ts for writing well on Hubpages, and similar sites.
Do: Respond to Comments
One thing experienced writers can neglect to mention when telling newbies how to get started is how to respond to comments. It's important to respond to them in a mature and professional, but relaxed and friendly, manner. You want to show optimism, wisdom, integrity, and inner strength when dealing with comments; you do not want to sound like you can't handle criticism. And it can be hard.
I want to make the best article I can write every time, and I really stress over each word. But even with that stressing, I don't always get it perfectly, so I sometimes need to listen to my critics, in case they see something I need to fix. Not allowing comments makes you seem like you personally feel threatened by the possibility of people disagreeing with your points of view.
- Try to answer every comment, and thank the person for taking the time to comment.
- Address criticism without getting too emotional or personal.
- Avoid insulting the commenter.
- Ignore negative comments. There is a "Don't" about this.
- Maintain a positive tone in your comments. Even if you disagree. Try phrases like, "That's a good point but," or "Interesting observation. However,..."
Don't be arrogant. Especially if you're new, you should appreciate feedback from readers that you can use to improve for future articles. I like to comment on newbs' articles with tips about how they can improve them. These comments aren't mean or "hating", they're me, as a writer, trying to help out new writers. Mature writers appreciate criticism, and the best writers got where they are by taking other people's thoughtful criticism into consideration. You don't know everything and you're not perfect. To err is human.
Don't: Respond to Negativity
It's good to respond to comments in a thoughtful, positive way, but of course not all comments are deserving of that. You WILL get trolls. These people taunt you, trying to bait you into confronting them, so they can brow-beat you endlessly in a comment war. Don't let that happen. You're in control of your comments. You should not censor it so that only love letters are allowed on your page and you tolerate no dissent, but you do not have to respond to negative trolls, either.
How do you know if you've got a troll on your hands?
They will usually attack you with insulting words designed to hurt your feelings, instead of actually talking about the ideas you express. They will usually be unconcerned with the topic of the original article, going off-topic with bigoted rants.
Just ignore them. To respond to them is to validate them. They're like a toddler throwing a tantrum - you just have to ignore them until they're ready to calm down and talk to you like an adult. They're not even worth your time to respond to. What they want from you is a response, causing an endless argument that will just make you progressively madder and more frustrated. Don't feed the trolls!
Do: Try to Use Short Sentences and Paragraphs
Concision is something you should always strive for. Doing some planning before writing will help you understand what you're going to say and how you will say it effectively. Wasting anyone's time in this day and age counts against you. Respect your reader's time.
Things I like to do:
- Incorporate bullet points and lists (like I'm doing here).
- Start a new paragraphs frequently.
- Cut sentences so they're short as possible and still say what needs to be said. But, I like to have a variety of sentence types, to not be monotonous.
- Distinguish between what needs to be included, and what would distract from your main point.
It's also important that your writing flows from idea to idea. Make a new text capsule every time there is a new point to make or new idea to discuss. This lets you organize the flow of your content.
This also can be an outlining method:
- Organize your text boxes with titles indicating their role (Introduction, Point 1, Point 2, Conclusion, etc.).
- Hit "Save Unpublished".
- Go back to that article later, and it will be easier to write now that you have an outline of what you're planning to say already in front of you.
Don't: Ramble or Be Disorganized
Whether you're writing non-fiction or fiction, it's always best to avoid wasting the reader's time.
- Redundancy or overstating a point.
- Excessive detail, if it's not important to the "big picture".
- Unrelated personal storytelling, which distracts readers and confuse them, making your message less clear.
Rambling makes you seem sloppy and disorganized. You must be organized in how you convey your message, to sound like someone who knows what they're talking about. You want your discussion of a topic focused on that topic. It should not include: daydreams, personal gripes, emotional blathering, or too many changes in focus. For example, if you'll notice, in this article, I'm not straying from the topic of "Hubpages writing improvement".
Personal anecdotes can be used if the personal story given is concise, and clearly supports your main point. In political and social journalism, I've often run across people trying to use their own personal experiences to prove a larger general trend, but you cannot easily generalize the big picture of social conditions from any one person's anecdote. In my own writing, I've noticed that I tended to use more irrelevant personal narrative information in earlier work, and have since shifted to keeping my tone more neutral. This has helped me write more concisely and with more focus.
Do: Use a Variety of Capsule Types
Hubpages staff will also tell you this. A good Hubpages article is much more than text. You want to use pictures and videos to add to the reader's experience. Try to accompany at least one image with every paragraph. Images should be wide, large, and visually interesting.
Videos are good because they attract views. A response to a popular YouTube video can be a good way to launch your hot take on a certain topic. You can also put videos related to your article at the end as a "by the way check this out" kind of thing.
Polls are also good. They let your readers participate in the story by giving their opinions. I like to use polls whenever I do a "Top Ten" list, so my readers can vote on which item on the list is their favorite.
Instead of using the ratings capsule, I give a rating at the end of a review article in a callout capsule. These can also be used to show off important quotations.
I usually put Amazon capsules at the end, so they do not distract the reader's focus from the main message. You're not writing an advertisement, you're writing an article. I find it a bit annoying when a fellow Hubber crams side-ads for Amazon up and down across the whole length of their article. Having too many afiliate links is also frowned upon by Google, and can hurt your Hub Score.
At the end, you can also use a links capsule to direct your audience towards related content. This can be articles you've done on the same topic, your sources of information, or related articles from around the web that you think your reader will appreciate. Beware of using too many links in your article though. Two or three at the most is usually enough. More than that, and you may get penalized by HubPages.
This is an example of a 'Callout' capsule. Use it for memorable quotes that you want to make stand out.
Don't: Rely Too Much on YouTube, Distract From the Main Content
If you use too many YouTube videos, DMCA issues and other YouTube problems will end up taking the videos down, and you will have to go in periodically and fix broken links. That adds up if you do lists of top movies or songs and include music videos or clips and trailers from all movies in your article. Save yourself a headache and limit it to one or two YouTube videos per article, at most. I had to learn this one the hard way!
You also don't want your page to become too 'busy' with too many types of media competing at once for the reader's attention. Keeping the pictures, videos, advertizements, and other non-text capsules organized and to a tasteful minimum is vital. Cut anything that might distract them from your words, which are your message.
The way you present your writing matters, almost as much as the content itself. In a digital media era, there are a ton of content-producers and consumers. There is a vast sea of writing on the internet. The average blog reader is looking for quality blogs that they can bookmark or favorite. If they like you, they will keep coming back. They find an article they like, and they may become your fan or follower, and want to stay up-to-date whenever you write something new. So if you write a quality article, it can get people to follow your writing. But that also means that you have to follow quality with quality.
Don't give up, and don't stop improving!