How to Optimize your HubPages to Make Money
This Hub is all about how to maximize income on what I call "writerly" Hubs.
I've been a member of HubPages for nine years and in that time, I've met many excellent writers, some even published authors or seasoned journalists, who are frustrated and mystified by their lack of success on HubPages. They write great copy, they've had success elsewhere, why not here?
It may surprise you to know that writing online is not the same as writing in the print world. You have to "unlearn" some of the rules you learned in school or on writing courses--for instance, write a "catchy" title and you may as well throw your Hub in the trash. And you have to learn some new skills. So let's do it.
Step #1 - Prioritize your Hubs
Work on the Hubs that get the most traffic first. Go to the Statistics page and order the Hubs by Page Views (click on the "30 days" heading twice). Now either export the table into Excel, or print the screen, so you have a handy list of your Hubs with the highest-trafficked Hubs at the top.
Step #2: Allow Space for HubPages Ads
Advertising on HubPages doesn't always appear in exactly the same place on every Hub. HubPages uses Yieldbuild to work out the best positions. It makes sense, then, to make sure you leave space for those ads by splitting your text over several capsules.
Step #3 - Grab Your Reader Immediately
People are impatient online. If they're not instantly convinced your Hub gives them what they're looking for, they will click back to Google and try the next search result. So the first paragraph of your Hub must say to the reader "I'm going to help you with your question".
Many writers have been taught to start an article with an introduction, perhaps a bit of humour or a general overview. Not online! If you must explain the background to how you came to make the quilt or learn all those facts about cataracts, tell us at the end of the Hub. Not at the start. You have to jump straight in!
The Hero Shot
Some people - one of the founders of HubPages included - recommend a full-width image at the top of your Hub to engage your readers. However, that tactic must be used with great caution.
The concept of the "hero shot" comes from retail websites which are selling products. If a reader arrives at a site looking for a pair of shoes and see a picture of some gorgeous shoes, it gives them confidence in the site. It's not always so easy to find the right photo for a Hub, and that's where the "hero shot" concept can backfire.
Say a reader comes to your Hub for help on how to fish for saltwater trout, and the first thing they see is a picture of a fisherman holding a fat trout he's just caught. That will give the reader confidence - "this writer knows how to catch fish". But what if the image is of your family having a great time on a fishing trip? No matter how appealing the photo, they'll think, "oh this is just some amateur writing about fishing with his kids" and click back to find a more authoritative source.
So, ask yourself what your readers want, and make sure your opening image relates directly to that need. If it doesn't, don't use it as an opener.
If you do use a "hero shot", it's vital to jump straight into the "meat" of your content in the very first paragraph. You've already asked your reader to scroll down once to find the answer they're seeking - they won't scroll down any further unless they're convinced you're going to help them!
An example: I recently saw an excellent Hub on how to make a particular type of quilt. It started with a "hero shot" of the finished quilt - which is great, except that the next several paragraphs told the story of why the author decided to make it! Anyone looking for instructions would've decided this was a personal story with no practical advice to offer - which is a pity, because the rest of the Hub gave some excellent, detailed advice.
Step #4 - Keep Your Text Flowing
On a PC or laptop, Hubs look best with photos floated to the right of the text (if you're not sure what I'm talking about, you need to learn how to use capsules). A photo cutting across the page can often stop a reader scrolling down - so they'll never see the ads below it!
Unfortunately, HubPages has a very basic mobile view, which automatically expands all capsules to full-width when viewed on a cellphone or tablet. Half-width capsules expand ABOVE the capsule they're next to, and that may not make sense - make sure you use the " Preview" function to check the Hub looks right on a mobile device.
Do make sure you use photographs legally, too! Copyright for photos is the reverse of what most people think - ALL photos are copyright unless stated otherwise. To learn more, read this Hub.
Note: If you have your own photos, bear in mind it's very likely they'll be stolen if you put them on HubPages. Consider putting them up for sale at a site like Dreamstime instead. You can always write a Hub or two to promote them.
Most visitors to HubPages are using mobile devices - so always click on Preview and view your Hub in Mobile view, to make sure the Hub will look good for those readers
Step #5: Keep Your External Links Low
I don't mean you mustn't link to other websites: Google will reward you for including links to good quality sites. I mean keep them low down in the Hub. The reason is simple - if a reader sees a link to another site before they get to an ad, they may follow that link and never come back to click on the ad!
So keep your links to other Hubs or other websites to the last couple of paragraphs. And don't go link-crazy: only link if the other Hub or site adds real value to your Hub. A sea of blue links only annoys your readers - and they'll be even more annoyed if they follow the links and don't find it helpful. Besides, the more links you create, the more work you're creating for yourself, because you're more likely to have broken links in the future - and Google doesn't like broken links.
Step #6: Interlink, Interlink, Interlink
If you've written several Hubs on the same subject, interlink them. I don't just mean put them in groups - I mean mention your other Hubs in the text, (e.g. "...as I explained in my Hub on Belly Dance Workouts"). These are called contextual links and Google loves them.
You can see how I've implemented this in my Hub on Tribal Belly Dance Costumes - I have links in the text to my website and to my related Hubs.
Step #7 - Four Quick Ways to Improve Traffic
Basic SEO - Avoid Clever Titles
Most writers are taught to use a "catchy" title for an article, and witty headings within it. On the internet, that does not work!
You must use titles that describe what the Hub is about, preferably in a phrase people actually search for. That often means they're somewhat boring, but don't worry - because titles are to attract Google first and foremost. You can "grab" your reader with your summary and first paragraph! It's surprising what a difference a good title can make to your traffic - I saw one Hub triple in traffic when I changed its title to include my keyword phrase.
The clip below explains how to use the Google Keyword Planner to optimize your title - but personally, I don't recommend it. That tool is designed to provide a service to advertisers, not writers, and because of that it's far too easily misunderstood. Get it wrong, and you can do more harm than good!
It's possible to achieve a lot with simple common sense. Just ask yourself what people are likely to be looking for, start typing them into Google and see what auto-completes - those are the phrases people are actually searching for, so those are what you should use.
For a more detailed explanation of how to use that feature, read this Hub on Google Suggest by Wrylilt.
If the title is for Google, the summary is for your visitors. It provides the couple of lines you see under the Hub title on Google search results. Make sure it entices your reader to click on the link and read more! You'll find it at the top of the "reorder" box when you're in edit mode. Remember, though, that the reader can't see it on the Hub itself.
Write Long Hubs
Longer Hubs - between 1,000 and 2,500 words - do much better than short Hubs. Readers themselves may not care to read a very long Hub - but a longer Hub will rank higher in Google's search results, and therefore be more likely to get readers in the first place.
Keeping Readers on your Page
Google looks at a range of parameters when judging your Hub, and one of them is the length of time visitors stay. The longer they stay, the more value your Hub has in Google's eyes, the higher you'll rank on searches and the more visitors you'll get.
A simple way to hold readers longer is to add Youtube videos relevant to your subject. This has the bonus of giving you a free backlink - a link to your Hub will automatically appear on Youtube.
Having done all that work, you should see improved traffic to your Hubs. But here, I need to add a small reality check.
Occasionally, I come across a Hubber who's unhappy with their income--but when I enquire more closely, I discover that they're earning around $2 per Hub per month.
Their problem isn't that their Hubs are doing badly - their problem is that they're expecting too much. $2 per Hub may not sound like much--but most seasoned Hubbers would regard that as a successful Hub. Certainly, you will get the occasional Hub that is hugely successful and earns far more than that--but the reality is that most Hubs will earn just one or two dollars a month.
Writing Hubs is as a long-term investment. Some of my Hubs have been published for nine years and are still earning around $2 steadily every month. So each of those Hubs has paid me at least $250--not bad when you consider each Hub took me an afternoon to write, and has needed only the occasional minor tweak over the years.
Think of Hubs as money-makers that can simmer profitably on the back-burner while you're doing other things.