Can You Really Make Money on HubPages or Is It Just an Internet Pyramid Scheme?
New Hubber (Sort Of)
I joined HubPages over 2 years ago but became involved in writing elsewhere and forgot all about my account here until I re-stumbled upon HubPages a few weeks ago. When I found out I already had an account, I decided to give it a try. I love writing; why not get paid for it?
Unlike my personal blogs (which have been niche-based) I was free to write about whatever I wanted on HubPages for just a single article (hub). It was freeing. I didn't have to have a topic that I could write endlessly about. I could just write what needed to be said, or simply what I wanted to say and leave it at that.
So I started by reviewing some of my favorite "buys" - the FURminator, the ChuckIt!, SpanishPod101, my JanSport backpack, etc. I just looked around my living room and thought, "What things am I really glad to have that others might want to know about?" Then I tried a funny piece about moving because I'm in the process right now. Then a few of my favorite recipes. I wrote about things I've spent a lot of time researching for my own purposes that I thought others might find useful - like scholarships for medical professional students.
The more I wrote, the more I felt I had to write about. And the more excited I got about the idea of earning some extra money this way. Who wouldn't like to be paid for doing something they enjoy?
So What's Odd Here?
And that's when I started really paying attention to HubPages. You see, as I watched the pennies trickle in, I began to do more than just write - I began to read. And I started to notice some things about this interesting website and it's design.
- When bumming around looking for hubs I might enjoy or find useful, I noticed an awful lot of hubs about hubbing - especially about making money from hubbing.
- These hubs about hubs all seem to suggest the same thing - read lots of hubs, comment on lots of hubs, be active in the forums, follow others to gain followers, etc.
- Many of these hubs also discussed the recent change in Google's algorithm. Apparently, Google is trying to be more careful of websites that they deem content farms (including HubPages).
What exactly is a content farm?
A content farm is a site that "employs" a large number of writers and focuses on keywords and search engine optimization over quality (and unique) content.
So, is HubPages a Content Farm?
I don't know, but here are a few reasons I don't think so:
- Writers choose their own topics.
- Writers choose their own keywords and tags.
- Hubs are regulated (with overly promotional hubs removed, etc).
- There is a lot of great (and unique) content (if you look for it).
But not being defined as a content farm doesn't put HubPages in the free and clear. There is still the matter of the curious intra-website cross-promotion.
And that leads me to the real question of this hub... Is HubPages an internet writers' pyramid scheme?
What is a pyramid scheme?
A pyramid scheme is an unsustainable business model in which participants will supposedly make money primarily be enrolling or training others. This is a form of fraud and is illegal in many countries (including the U.S.). Many people believe that multi-level marketing is a form of a pyramid scheme.
What is multi-level marketing?
Multi-level marketing is a marketing model in which participants are compensated for their own sales and also for the sales of others they recruit.
Sound familiar? That's because you probably read the HubPages FAQ page when you signed up for an account. HubPages will give you a percentage of the impressions generated by others you "recruit" to write for them, and they will also give you a percentage of the impressions generated by hubs you link to. And remember, impressions lead to revenue. Here it is in their own words:
The HubPages Affiliate (or Referral) Program: You can refer new writers to HubPages and if they become Hubbers within 30 days, you receive an additional 10% of their Hubs’ lifetime impressions.
Traffic Referral Program: If you send traffic to any Hub, you’re entitled to either 9% or 12% of total impressions. You’ll receive 9% if the Hub you’ve referred people to already has impressions allocated to an Affiliate. If there are no Affiliates, you’ll receive 12% of the total impressions.
~ From HubPages FAQ (May 12, 2011)
So, you write good content (in some ways, this could be seen as a "buy-in" like in a traditional pyramid scheme), then you recruit others to write content and link to others' hubs in order to receive additional impressions (and revenue).
So, is HubPages a Pyramid Scheme?
I'm not sure on this one either, but here are a few reasons I think not:
- No one must "buy-in" with money in order to generate money.
- The focus seems to be on writing good content with perks for referring others to HubPages and linking to other good hubs.
If it's not a content farm and it's not a pyramid scheme...
Then what is it?
HubPages is a website with a wide variety of content written by numerous freelance writers, with an unfortunate infestation of "get-rich-quick" schemers.
If you do as so many of the "Hubs about Hubbing" suggest and read other hubs simply so yours will in turn be read, then no wonder Google doesn't like us. No wonder they are attempting to keep sites like this out of their search results. We are our own "impressions." We are the "readers" for which they are paying us.
I don't know about you, but I hope my content is more meaningful than that. I hope that my readers actually enjoy my hubs or learn something from them. I hope I'm "followed" because my writing is of value, not because someone is hoping I'll follow them back. I want my hubs to be read by more than just hubbers hoping to make quick and easy money.
So I'll continue to write quality hubs that I believe in, link when appropriate, read what I like, and comment/engage in conversation when I have something to say, but I won't be giving in to this circular intra-website promotion that only serves to ruin the credibility of HubPages and of my own work.
Sure, I've only made $0.32, but at least it's honest money.