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First Month At HubPages From A Post-Panda Newbie
Warning: Shameless self-promotional material inside
Yeah, this is one of those hubs: An introspective on my first month at HubPages. At first, I wasn't sure the world needed another perspective on a newbie's expectations and experiences with HP. After reading some excellent introductory hubs from former novice hubbers, I realized that I apparently reside in one of HubPages' smallest minority groups -- The underachievers.
Browsing through HubPages' section for new hubbers, I stumbled across amazing stories of triple-digit Google AdSense earnings, herds of adoring fans, unbelievable amounts of search engine traffic, and offers for lucrative book-publishing deals. Okay ... I made one of those up.
What you won't find, however, are stories of new hubbers who didn't really accomplish anything noteworthy in their first month or two. People who didn't make $20 in AdSense clicks, didn't have one of their hub's go viral, and didn't attract a huge following right from the start. I understand, of course, as success stories tend to be less embarrassing to write. For the hundreds of potential new hubbers who aren't SEO experts or future Pulitzer prize winners, though, I thought this hub might be relevant.
First Month Stats
People Who Follow Me
Comments On My Hubs
Feedback On My Hubs
Total Pageviews (HP stats)
Starting at the end: The results
Before I discuss the reasons why I signed up for HubPages and attempt to analyze my activities since joining, please take a moment to check out the stats to the right. If you have an aversion to numbers, tables, and graphs, you might want to skip to the next heading.
While I'm only assuming, my guess is that most new hubbers write 1-10 hubs in their first month. My 13 hubs place me slightly above average, but I will admit that a few of my hubs are repurposed articles that I had written for other websites. According to HubPages' own account statistics, these 13 hubs have received approximately 900 pageviews as of this writing, or just under 70 pageviews per hub.
Wow, not bad. Sure, I could have easily broken 1,000 page views, but reloading the page over and over again proved to be rather boring after several minutes (... I jest).
In contrast, pulling up my Google Analytics numbers presents a downright sobering picture. At nearly half of HubPages' page view count, the reported 256 visitors haven't exactly been pulled in by my magnetic prose. Google can be thanked for most of the traffic, though I'm very surprised how little direct HubPages-generated traffic I'm receiving. I'll revisit this thought later on in the hub (or not. Actually, it's better if I don't).
Ignoring the HubPages-specific metrics for now, the other major value I'd like to focus on is my total earnings through Google AdSense and the HP Ad program. I've joined at a time where there isn't enough data on the benefits and disadvantages of the HP Ad program to determine its value in comparison to displaying only AdSense ads. So, I decided to opt-in from my very first hub and experience the results for myself.
$1.14. That's not what I found in my pants pocket, by the way. A month of writing, involving myself in the community, and anxiously waiting for traffic has generated the whopping value of ... well, almost enough to buy a Coke out of the vending machine at work. C'mon, where's that $147 that I read about? Oh, yeah -- that was instructive hyperbole. Wow, do I feel sheepish now or what?
Let me clarify, though, that the HP Ad program accounts for all of my earnings thus far. Whether I really had 900 page views or just 478, the reality is that not a single one of them resulted in an AdSense click. Since my focus has been on product reviews, you might wonder why I haven't mentioned the Amazon affiliate program. Three words: North Carolina taxation. If I were to say anything more, it would require me to employ asterisks and hash marks.
The Amdro Phenomenon
Keyword research. That phrase is uttered around here like it had come out of the mouth of God (and maybe it did). Whether you are looking for a hub on the topic from a successful hubber, checking out HP's Answers section, or trolling the forums, keyword research is the bread-and-butter of making money at HubPages. Supposedly, anyway. Check out the graphic below for an example of my success at using keyword research to dominate Google's search results:
That's right. If you Google "Amdro" as of this writing, my hub on Amdro's Ant Stakes shows up right under Amdro's official website and its advertising arm for ant bait (baitisbetter.com). Of the 191,000 possible search results, I rank just below the friggin' manufacturer's homepage! My secret? Keyword research. I wrote this hub just one week after I joined HubPages and it has been sitting in its current location at Google for nearly three weeks.
Turns out, however, that my knowledge of keyword research doesn't extend into generating traffic. Three weeks of intimidating Amdro with a scathing review of its worthless ant stakes, and I've only received 102 pageviews according to HP (and I'm sure at least 10 of those views are my own). I'd probably make more in "hush money" from Amdro than whatever advertising revenue it will generate in the future.
Mistakes I've made so far
Only three of my hubs have attracted over 100 page views to date, and none of them are particularly verbose (650 words maximum). In fact, my lengthy pieces have all been ignored, including my review on the Ooma Telo VoIP box that comes in third place when you Google "ooma review". And forget writing about music or video games that aren't topping the charts at this particular moment -- even the crickets have better places to be.
Looking through Google Analytics again, one of my most amusing bungles relates to my hub on striking out writing for Textbroker. While nobody is finding it on account of searching for freelancers' experiences with Textbroker, I unknowingly have made it the 4th most popular article for the keyword phrase "Mathematical Materials Used As Therapeutic Tools". Who is actually looking for such a thing? Nerds? Uber-nerds? Or just other Textbroker writers who are as clueless about the subject as I was? Oh crap, now this hub is going to start attracting these people.
Other than doing some rudimentary keyword research and submitting my hubs to the free back-linking website IMAutomator, my promotional efforts have been aimed at the HubPages audience: Leaving comments on others' hubs, answering HP questions, and participating in the forums. While this isn't necessarily a mistake, I'm not sold on the idea that community involvement will generate significant traffic over the long term.
Why I'm not giving up ... yet
The tone of this hub has been mostly negative, but that is only because of my high expectations. Like I stated at the start, positive testimonials are what attracted me to HubPages, but the average person should be aware that huge success from the very beginning isn't guaranteed. Quality of writing is only one factor (not that I consider myself top tier), and you will need to also take into account:
- The number of hubs published
- Hubs relevant to search engine users
- Strong optimization of keywords OR lack of competition for your niches
- Number of back links to your hubs
The last one is likely the most important, and the most difficult to attach value to for a first month perspective. This is my first reason for hanging in here.
Of late, a major factor that might explain why my traffic and income doesn't compare to previous new hubbers is the Panda effect. From what I understand, site-wide traffic is down at least 50% since the end of the 1st quarter of 2011. Since I started several months after Panda wreaked havoc on HubPages' relevance in Google's search, my numbers are likely more in line with someone who decides to start writing for HP today. Several measures have been implemented to address the damage, a few that have been very unpopular, but my hope is that the HubPages staff will eventually right its ship. Reason #2.
When I signed up here, the priority was for me to figure out how to seize my share of the residual income pie. Not that my goal has changed, but I've found that I also enjoy building my online presence by participating in the community. I'm not writing with the intention of sending it all to oblivion, and I'm grateful that posting my hubs here is giving my thoughts a place to be noticed and discussed. Well, all of my hubs except for the one on Glenn Beck (*hint hint*).
If nothing else, I hope at least one person reads this and finds it useful. By no means am I trying to discourage others from choosing to write for HubPages, but I thought adding a little balance to the first month success stories couldn't hurt. If I'm still here in 6 months, I will write an update to this hub and decide if HubPages is the right place for me.