How to Write a Successful Humorous Article on HubPages
I hear a lot of people say that some forms of writing are not profitable here on HubPages. These categories might include poetry, fiction, blogging, satire, and humor. Although I cannot speak for poetry or fiction the latter topics I can testify for. I think people lose hope on these pieces so you don't find many good ones written here - which is all the better reason to start writing some! Believe it or not there is an audience aching for a good belly laugh.
Trick One - The Title
This is the first thing I learned here on HubPages. Your title is important. Now, I admit, I love dry humor, where you are somewhat uncertain if a person is actually trying to be funny. However it's this type of satire that doesn't do well. People feel duped. They get angry and they leave colorful comments. I have never written an article that was completely made up. I just used facts that I wove in an entertaining way. My first attempts however where not fantastic. When I joined HubPages, five years ago, one of my first articles was called Where Bigots the Driving Force Behind the "War on Drugs?" I thought making the title a question would intrigue readers to click it, not really realizing that it made it sound a little too official. People didn't expect to be brought to an article that went through the history of US drug laws and once they were there they expected it to read like a textbook not like a sideways smirk. They took my references to the savaging of "poor innocent white women" by minorities seriously, not as a joke about how ridiculous the claims of the day were. OOPS. Today this article remains one of my personal favorites but it has only gathered a little over 1,000 visitors in five years, the same amount of hits some of my very short articles have received. This was a real blow.
This year I continued on with the topic writing 15 Really Stupid Things Your Teenagers are Doing to Get High. It has been up less than a year and has gotten over 3,000 visitors and much love on FaceBook. As you can see I learned how to get my reader's attention with the title, making it almost accusatory but at the same time in a fun sort of way. Sadly I had to take this article down... advertisers apparently weren't amused I was pointing out their products were being used against manufacturer's instruction. Can't win them all I guess!
Try to make up titles that grab people's attention and might even make them laugh. The more you can surprise a person the better off you'll be. Currently my top ranking humorously titled article is Pop! Goes the Speculum and Other Gynecological Horror Stories. See, that made you go, "what?!" I know, I can see you from here. Just kidding of course. This article has had 23,000 hits in two years. Not bad! It is also easily followed up by Killer Tampons - Society's Least Suspected Weapons of Womanly Destruction.
Trick Two - Picking a Subject
Picking a subject is sometimes hard for writers but don't let it be. You want to pick something that will get someone's attention and curiosity. You could pick a hot button issue like I did in Popes Gone Wild: What the Catholic Church Would Rather You Forget. Do note however that if you pick a hot button issue, whether you write it in a funny way or not, you will get negative feed back from time to time, especially if it is about religion or politics. You could shrink back and feel offended or you could be me and just laugh, knowing you've done your job well.
History and biology are two very easy subjects to write with a humorous bent. In history pick a common theme and discover where it came from and why. From there write it up in your own style. It's very easy. I saw an article on toilet paper here that had me cracking up so I know it's not just me doing this. I chose to write The Wild and Crazy History of Condoms, The World's Most Disgusting Foods - A Culinary Challenge!, Three Real Cases of Haunted Dolls, Biblical Child Rearing Advice for Heathens,and All the Interesting People are in Hell to name a few. Of course the latter two religious ones were based on the Bible, a whole different can of worms, but one which I do consider history in its own way.
Biology is another easy one. Do you love animals? A lot of people do. Use this to your advantage. You can tell personal stories like The Evil Scheming of a Vicious Cockatoo or The Many Animals I've Been Bitten By or you can write about wild animals and what they are up to like Crazy Facts about Fleas You Won't Believe. As you can see by the last example the animal in question doesn't even have to be lovable! You can even retell news stories like You Can't Sue a Gorilla - The Death of Common Sense in the US.
You want to pick things that are relateable. My examples involving toilet paper, tampons, and condoms work well because everyone uses at least one of these objects and yet no one talks about it! This hush-hush nature automatically gives these topics the giggle factor. Sometimes your relatable factor will not be an object but an experience, as was the inspiration for Sarcastic Answers for Your Doctor's Stupid Questions, Interesting Ways to Make Telemarketers Cry, and Great Movies to Watch to Scar Your Children for Life. I mean who hasn't been sitting in front of a doctor wondering why he's asking you for the eightieth time today if you're pregnant, can't he read a chart?? And who hasn't wanted to go on a killing spree because tele-marketers are driving you up the wall? And most people have watched at least one children's movie that made the back of their mind go, "HUH, that scene was kind of creepily adult oriented."
Trick Three - Photos and Media
We would all like our writing to stand for itself but in reality we live in a culture that praises ADD. Don't believe me? Just visit Twitter. "I must have 1,000 people give me one sentence, none of which relates to any of the others!!" At the very least have photos on your Hubs. I know it can be difficult finding photos so you'll just have to be creative. Maybe you know of a comic that relates to your story or have some other stock image that might work. If you can use at least one photo per section of your Hub. Putting videos in Hubs also seems all the rage today so make sure to go to YouTube and dig up some goodies there. There's probably a satirical song on there about anything and everything under the sun. Use them!
I have linked a youtube video here of Tom Lehrer singing We Will all Go Together When We Go. Why? Because I felt it was time for a musical intermission and Tom Lehrer has always been a comic inspiration...
Trick Four - Linking
I know a lot of Hubbers feel like cowing to the search engines is not the most noble of efforts. Again, we'd like to think our articles are worth it to read without the extra fuss of saying, "Hey! I'm here! And I can be commercial too!!" But in reality some of these very simple things aren't going to hurt you any. There's a little check box when you are creating a Hub that says when you've achieved certain things in that hub that'll make it more search worthy. I explained above two of those things were photos and videos. Another thing is word count. Yes, the longer articles that keep people's interest do far better than short ones. I can tell you that from experience. One of the things HubPages doesn't mention however is the power of linking. Imagine you've bought a book by an author you've never heard of. You read the book and want to read something else by this author but you're not sure how to go about finding him or her. This is exactly what it is like when you write a hub with no links. When a reader likes you you should give them more of what they want. Link other related articles you've written at the bottom of your Hubs. I did this recently and it absolutely does help traffic. It makes you original article more searchable and gives you more clicks from curious people who want more of you. It is a win win. You can also incorporate links within your article as I have done with this one but be tactful about it or you will lose your readers.
Trick Six - Don't Get the Censors Panties Tied in a Bunch
This is a new lesson I keep learning. Apparently you can no longer use accurate medical terminology for any reproductive parts, you cannot say words like slutty, and you can't always get away with curses either. In fact I had an article refused for having the word sex in the title (which was Battle of the Sexes!) Many of the articles are still publishable, some are even able to get the exalted listed status, but they won't allow ads to be put on them - basically you'll have them up for free. I first figured this out after writing Nature's Most Extreme Dads and after spending two days researching until my eyes bled I wasn't about take it down. It is one of my all-time favorite articles and I have decided it is worth being up for free. You might not feel the same way but that's OK there is a solution, I wrote about it here in Colorful Euphemisms for Fellow Hubbers. It is after all much harder for a computer to realize naughty phrases than it is naughty words.
Hub for other Hubbers!
I know. It sounds cliché, writers shouldn't write about writing, but the fact is other writers love to hear tips and tricks from people they like reading. Besides this HubPages is a wonderful, bright, and friendly community and it is nice talking to other Hubbers. Besides my euphemism article and the one you're reading I've also written Sometimes Hatemail is Fun which is a great lesson to anyone who dies a little inside whenever they get a negative comment.
In the end don't give up. As I write this I have on average 800-1000 visitors a day to my Hubs and I plan to continue improving that. It does take work but we're doing what we love here and whatever we get for it is just an extra bonus so have fun! Go make some silly, funny, fantastic Hubs! We're all waiting!