How Did I Make Money Writing On HubPages? The First $100
You Really Can Make Money On HubPages!
Today I reached my biggest goal to date on HubPages:
I reached my first $100 Google Adsense payout!
This put me in a reflective mood, so I decided to take a look back and see just how I managed to accomplish this task.
Just what did I "do right" to hit that mark?
Was it great backlinking? Masterful SEO? Brilliant writing skills? Dumb luck?
I hit the $100 Google Adsense threshold exactly 5 months and 5 days after publishing my first hub, and I’ve been using Google Analytics from day one, so it should be pretty easy to figure out what works and what doesn’t.
It wasn’t until 2 months into Hubbing that I realized that I could tie my Google Adsense account to my Analytics account, so there is no Analytics earnings data for the early part of my HubPages experience. I do have the Adsense “raw” data going all the way back to the beginning, so I can at least find out how I earned money over those five months, right?
Turns out it wasn’t that easy to figure it out...
The First 3 Months
For my first three months on HubPages, here are my stats:
- 50 Hubs
- 9,800 Page Views
- $30 in AdSense Earnings
Around month four, I participated in a “60 Day Challenge” - it was an unofficial HubPages challenge devised by Sunforged.
The general idea was to gather a group of Hubbers to write 30 hubs in 30 days, and then to spend the next 30 days promoting those hubs. There was a lot for me to learn, and the participants ranged from newbies to established Hubbers. I felt I was somewhere in the middle ground - kind of new, but kind of knowledgeable and pretty successful given my limited amount of experience. Six months prior, I had never even heard of the term “SEO”!
Together, we all learned and shared knowledge, and by the end of the 60 days, these were my stats:
- 75 Hubs
- 18,000 Page Views
- $60 In AdSense Earnings
So that 50% increase in my number of hubs was accompanied by a doubling of my earnings, and almost a doubling of my page views…
And in the 4 weeks since the end of the challenge, my cumulative stats look like this:
- 84 Hubs
- 35,000 Page Views
- $102 in AdSense Earnings
So that’s a dramatic change! After the challenge had ended, I added just 9 more hubs, but my traffic nearly
doubled again, and my earnings rose by two-thirds to break the $100 mark...
Something about that 60 Day Challenge must have worked, but I’ll be damned if I can point my finger to exactly what it was!
UPDATE! January 2011
After One Year at HubPages, I have seen incredible growth in every measurable category! I have been receiving Adsense pay-out every month for the last several months, and my Amazon sales have finally begun to grow - the Christmas season brough almost $100 in sales commissions from Amazon, and the New Year has been promising, with almost $60 in commissions during January 2011!
Breaking Down Stats Is Hard To Do
Here are the things that I think should have worked in my favor:
- Writing more hubs, and doing my keyword research in advance
- Promoting my new hubs with the other 60 Day Challengers
- Writing groups of hubs around the same topic
More Hubs = More Traffic = More Money, Right?
The first aspect, writing more and better-focused hubs, was something I had done before, but not as well or as consistently. Right after I joined HubPages, I set the “30 in 30” challenge as a personal goal, and I accomplished that goal. But I was so “green” in all things related to writing online that I rushed through the "30 in 30" challenge with no plan of attack.
The hubs I wrote back then were unrelated to one another, and I usually did my keyword research after the hubs were published. I thought I was doing the right thing by “tweaking” my hubs to improve them, when in reality I probably never should have bothered writing a good many of them. The topics were not ones that had a lot of search traffic, and the keywords associated with them were low-paying.
In fact, the keywords and topics I chose to write about early on seem to fall into three categories:
- Over-saturated topics
- Infrequently searched keywords/topics
- Low paying keywords
Sometimes I hit all three of these categories in one hub! For example, I was writing recipes (over saturated topic) about foods that no one was looking for (infrequently searched) and that only paid five cents or less per click (low paying keywords).
Once in a while, I did accidentally manage to stumble across topics and/or keywords that were successful, and that’s how I managed to grind out that first $30 in 3 months.
Right from the start, I was getting more than 80% of my traffic from Search Engines and other external sources. So at least I can look into my Analytics and see what keywords were bringing that traffic, right?
Unfortunately, when I look in Google Analytics to find out what search phrases brought people to my hubs, more than half of the time the phrase being searched for doesn’t match my content! So someone searches for “telugu actress mms video” or “team national” ends up on my Windows Vista Tips hub!
So I can’t even take full advantage of my Analytics data to figure out what works and what doesn’t...
Was Promotion The Key?
The first phase of the 60 Day Challenge was when I first saw the most dramatic increases (from a percentage point of view). I was writing one or two hubs every day or two, but my traffic was doubling every few days.
So it must have been from the promotional techniques, right?
“Probably” is the best I can say! During the early phase of the challenge, when we were all writing our 30 hubs but not yet vigorously promoting them, I still saw gains. The promotional efforts at that point only involved an RSS feed that we all shared, and it only listed the “best” or “hot” hubs, so I didn’t find my hubs on those until a few weeks into the challenge (if at all).
So maybe I was writing on more popular topics, with more high paying keywords? That’s possible, but alas, among my top ten highest-paying hubs, only 2 are hubs I wrote for the 60 Day Challenge (and they are ranked #4 and #6 on that list).
Is There Strength In Numbers?
So - if it wasn’t the quality of the hubs or the promotional techniques, then it must have been the approach of writing hubs in themed groups!
One of the initial suggestions for the writing phase of the challenge was to pick five or six topics and then write 5 or 6 hubs in each topic, along with one hub that tied them all together (a “capstone” hub). This is a long-standing technique for generating backlinks internally, as well as for holding a reader’s attention by keeping them in a “loop” of your own related hubs, rather than leaving to view someone else’s content.
Some of the groups that I chose to do this with were Recipes, Animals and Travel. I wrote a capstone hub for my recipe and animal hubs, but not for the travel ones. The animal hubs did well, the recipes did okay, and the travel hubs did nothing!
I also grouped Computer-themed new hubs with older hubs on that topic, but without a capstone. I added links in my new and old computer-themed hubs, pointing them all to each other. They did very well. Same thing for some Movie hubs I wrote.
I also wrote a group of Fiction hubs that did have a capstone to tie them all together. They were my least successful of all!
So grouping hubs can have a beneficial effect, but again it isn’t the “magic bullet” I’ve been searching for...
So What’s The Answer?
Why was I able to reach my $100 Google AdSense threshold in just 5 months? I’m still not sure!
From early on in my HubPages experience, I’ve followed a basic backlink promotion pattern for every hub I’ve ever written:
- RedGage, SheToldMe and StumbleUpon for external links
- RSS feeds in every hub to showcase either my “latest” hubs, or a custom RSS feed to promote other hubs of mine
- I used to use Facebook, but closed my account a few weeks ago. Now I use Twitter to send a link as soon as I publish a hub, but I don’t see either of them as a “real” source of traffic or backlinks
Of my top 20 hubs (the ones that have made more than $1.00 each) only 8 were written for the 60 Day Challenge, but several of the older hubs were in topics that are directly related to those 8 newer hubs. The interlinking between old and new within a topic certainly seemed to help, and the promotion of the Challenge hubs most likely benefited those older, related hubs.
For the 60 Day Challenge, the main difference was having my hubs occasionally appear on the RSS feeds of other peoples’ hubs - I say “occasionally” because the list of hubs on the “best” and “hot” RSS feeds changes all the time, and any hub with a score of less than 80, or that gets few visitors, will never make it onto either of those feeds.
Some of the RSS feeds for the challenge were also promoted outside of HubPages, but the same rule applies - mostly the “hot” and “best” hubs were actively promoted. Many of us did submit the “latest” RSS feeds to external sites, but that helped everyone equally, and it’s effects would have worn off once the first phase ended.
And just to confuse matters further, some of my new post-challenge hubs see great external traffic within a day or two of publishing - with little or no promotion by me - while others get ignored all together!
But That Wasn’t An Answer!
So now I find myself with no concrete idea of what I did right! I scratched my head for a while and tried to think “outside the box” for a clue…
Eventually, I came across an
interesting post on Google’s official blog that might shed some light.
According to Google, 70% of search
results returned are based on synonyms,
and not on exact keyword matches! Plus, there a major change to the Google algorithms in May, known as the "May Day Change", that affected many pages all over the Internet...
In their ongoing efforts to weed out the crap and serve up the best and most useful content to searchers, Google has been rapidly and dramatically changing the “rules” about Search Engine Optimization. And they don’t always tell us content publishers just what they’re doing!
Don’t believe any of the “experts” out there who claim to know how to make Google work for you. Their techniques might work well in the short term, but Google is just as aware of these techniques as you and those “experts” are. If those techniques lead to “false positive” search results (i.e. the top search results are not quality content) then Google can simply change the rules and weed out those results. So as far as SEO goes, all of us writers trying to make money writing online are chasing a moving target.
In the end, I guess the lesson I’ve learned is a simple one that it shouldn’t even need to be said.
I’ll say it anyway, though: “Write good content about stuff that people are looking for, and you can succeed.”
Value of Quality, from Google's Matt Cutts
The Wrap Up!
Naturally, just writing great content is not all there is to it!
A bit of self-promotion will always be necessary.
Writing online is a business, and no business can survive without some amount of self-promotional advertising. You wouldn’t expect someone to open a new restaurant and not do some promotion to get things rolling! But once people are attracted to the restaurant, if it’s a good one, then advertising becomes less important - word of mouth and continued quality will keep the customers coming back, and they'll tell their friends to come, too.
So, with all of this in mind, I think the single greatest factor to my success so far is HubPages, itself. Just by publishing here, as opposed to on a blog or other site, I know that at the very least my work will be indexed quickly by Google. In addition to that, HubPages content seems to be highly regarded by Google’s algorithms just because it’s on HubPages.
Combining quality content with a great venue like HubPages, and then using reasonable on-page SEO and self-promotion, seems to have been the key.
And if the Google trend towards highlighting quality continues, then I think I will continue to benefit by doing just what I’ve tried to do all along -
Write useful, quality hubs about topics people are interested in!
Take the Poll !
Do you think YOU can make money on HubPages with Quality Content?
The Future Of SEO, from Google's Matt Cutts
All Text Copyright The Author. © 2010, All Rights Reserved.
All images in the Public Domain, from MorgueFile.com