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Reflecting on My Success with HubPages
My Experience on HubPages
November 9, 2010 (updated Jan 16, 2011)
As one of the long time writers on HubPages I have recently had the honor of being interviewed by the HubPages marketing team as well as by a couple of outside publications regarding my experiences on HubPages.
I have also had the honor of being included along with some other great Hubbers and friends with a short article about me on their new HubPages Success Stories page.
In addition to this recent experience I have also had this pending request from new Hubber J Llera-Johnson as well as inquiries from my brother-in-law, who is about to take early retirement and is looking for an additional source of income, both of whom are looking for advice on writing for HubPages.
How I Came to Write for HubPages
The result of receiving these inquiries has been some reflection on what I have experienced on HubPages as well as what I have tried to do with HubPages and how that has worked or not worked for me
In addition to reflection and review of some of my earlier Hubs, I have also reviewed the tracking and income reports available from HubPages, Amazon and Google to see how my income has increased during the four years I have been writing for HubPages.
My Earnings from HubPages
A first question asked by many is how much am I earning from my HubPage writing. This is understandable as the opportunity to generate a second income (or even a primary income in the case of some Hubbers) is what attracts most people, including me, to HubPages.
A decade or more ago, having seen the explosive growth of the Internet, I concluded first, that this growth would result in a growing demand for content and, second, in that growing demand, lay opportunity.
Prior to my discovering HubPages I had located and begun writing for some sites. I had (and still have) two blogs which, in the two years before joining HubPages, generated a total of about $4 in Google AdSense earnings.
A couple of months before I discovered HubPages, I joined another start-up that had the same 50/50 AdSense earnings split as HubPages had at that time (HubPages now splits 60/40 with Hubbers receiving 60% and HubPages 40%) and, from the time of my joining in late July of 2006 until December 31, 2006 I managed to generate about $30 in Google AdSense earnings from that site.
I should point out that HubPages and other sites that split the Google AdSense earnings don't split the money itself but, instead, rotate the appearance of ads with users codes and ads with the site's codes.
In the case of HubPages, Google ads with the Hubber's codes appear 60% of the time on the writer's Hubs and Google ads with HupPages' codes appear 40% of the time (I believe that this is also true of the Amazon, eBay and Kontera ads). If HubPages split the money earned from the ads rather than the appearance of the ads themselves then HubPages, rather than Google, Amazon, etc. would pay us and report our income to the tax authorities.
While I continued to write for that site into 2007, it became apparent that this site lacked the dynamic leadership of the HubPages team. As result there were no regular enhancements to that site and no marketing of the site as a whole to either attract readers or attract good writers. That site basically stagnated and its lack of robust traffic was reflected in my Google AdSense earnings.
I discovered HubPages in mid-September 2006 and began writing and publishing multiple Hubs daily. In the roughly three months from September 22, 2006 to December 31st of that year I published a total of 163 Hubs and earned $73.46 from these Hubs in Google AdSense. I also won about $300 from HubPages for Hubs written for the contest they ran in November and December of 2006.
My HubPage Earnings Summary
Strategies for Earning Money with HubPages
I have learned a lot about writing and earning money from GoogleAdsense on HubPages and the web. From this, I have concluded that there appear to be three major strategies to choose from for earning GoogleAdsense income.
The first strategy is quantity (of course these have to be high quality as well). This basically involves producing a large number of Hubs in which each one averages $1 to $5 or more per month. For this to work one should write evergreen type Hubs which involve topics that remain relevant to readers over time and thus attract readers and generate AdSense income on an ongoing basis.
This quantity approach has been my main strategy although more by default and ignorance than design. As you can see from the table above my annual and monthly income from Google Adsense has risen steadily from $73.46 beginning in the last quarter of 2006 during which 163 Hubs were published to the first three quarters of 2010 during which my monthly income has averaged $816 and 555 Hubs generating that income.
The second approach would be to find a niche topic and write for the loyal audience interested in that topic. Early in my HubPage writing I saw a comment on a Hub by someone else by HubPage founder and CEO, Paul Edmonson in which he not only discussed the benefits of finding and writing for a niche but added that one Hubber, whom he did not identify, at that time (about 2007) was averaging about $1,500 per month in AdSense revenue (I don’t know if this was net or gross) with a mere 50 Hubs writing for a niche.
I haven’t used this approach mainly because I haven’t found a niche.
The third way is the keyword approach. Popular keywords are words used frequently in searches by people looking for content and Google directs these searches to articles and sites that have the same words in their content. Most Hubbers, including me, try to use words that will attract search traffic.
However, there is a science to this and one has to spend hours studying this topic and more hours researching the right keywords for a Hub. Fellow Hubber Misha, who has been writing on HubPages for three years, is a master at this. He has been writing almost as long as I have but has far fewer Hubs.
In a recent interview Misha indicated that his HubPage income averages about $80 per day and attributes his success to a combination of extensive keyword research and aggressive marketing of his Hubs. Misha is one of the many Hubbers whose Hubs about successful writing I look to to learn from.
Marketing you your Hubs is also an important element required for all three of these approaches and, as I have improved my skills in this area, my income has grown. I have also started doing more keyword research this year as well.
How Long it Took Before I Received My First AdSense Payout
As I mentioned above I had a couple of blogs with AdSense on them which I had been writing for two or three years prior to joining HubPages. As I recall, by September 22, 2006 when I published my first Hub, Holidays - Celebrate the Web on September 22nd with OneWebDay I had accrued four dollars and some cents from these two blogs.
I had also, in August of 2006, discovered and started writing for another site which had a 50/50 AdSense ad split the same as HubPages offered at that time (HubPages has now increase our portion to 60/40) and I began earning money on that site which amounted to about $30 between August and December.
However, it soon became clear that HubPages was attracting more traffic and more good writers than the other site. It also quickly became clear that, unlike every other site I had checked, HubPages was a community of great people.
In addition to making money from writing we interacted and shared with each other and with the team that owned and ran HubPages. HubPages was, and still is, a place where you can interact with others, share and learn from each other as well as ask and receive help from both the HubPage team and the Hubbers themselves.
In a way it is difficult to say whether the greatest attraction of HubPages is the superior money making opportunities offered by HubPages or the people associated with HubPages. Difficult, because, certainly in my case, and I am sure for others, my income from the site is higher and keeps growing in part because of what I have learned from others on HubPages to say noting of the continual improvements being made by the HubPage team and often in response to questions, suggestions and requests made by those of us doing the writing.
Bottom line is the atmosphere of the site is fun.
That being said, it did take me three months from mid-September to the end of December 2006 to earn enough to qualify for my first AdSense payout from Google in January 2007. Actually, my earnings from HubPages for that three month period totaled $73.46 which was not enough by itself for a January 2007 payout as Google only pays when a person’s total accrued earnings at the end of the previous month (December 31, 2006 in my case) is $100 or more.
However, in addition to the $73.46 I had accrued from HubPages by December 31, 2006 I also had about $4 accrued over the past two years from my two blogs and about $30 from the other site I began writing for in July 2006. When these two sources were combined with the much larger HubPage earnings for the last 3 months of 2006 my total due from Google exceed $100 and I received my first time ever check from Google in January 2007.
In January 2007 my Hubs generated a little over $100 themselves which meant that I would be paid again in February. While my non-HubPage writing has continued to produce two or three dollars per month, HubPages alone has always, with one exception, not only produced over $100 per month but has also kept increasing to the point where this year I have begun averaging between eight and nine hundred per month from HubPages.
As I noted above, I have been receiving monthly payments from Google every month except one since Juanuary 2007 as a result of my HubPage earnings. The one month that I did not receive a check was September 2007 and that was due to the fact that my total AdSense earnings for August 2007 (remember, Google pays a month after the income is earned) which came to $99 and eighty or ninety-some cents. I missed the $100 minimum amount for payment by twenty-cents or less. Instead of receiving my August 2007 earnings in September 2007, they were combined with my September 2007 earnings and received from Google in October 2007.
Amount of Time I Spend on HubPages
HubPages is not a place to get rich quick. While there may be an exception or two, the hours one spends working on HubPages yields very little in terms of income for that month. This is especially true in the beginning.
I began writing for HubPages on September 22, 2006 and wrote and published one or more Hubs each day through December 31, 2006 and estimate I averaged 3 - 4 hours a day working on HubPages during that period.
During those first three plus months on HubPages I published 163 Hubs and earned about $76 in Google AdSense from my HubPage writing which worked out to about thirty-one cents an hour or about what a nineteenth century child laborer in a Charles Dickens' novel earned.
At first glance, at thirty-one cents an hour, writing for HubPages does not make any sense at all. However, writing for HubPages (and other online activities that rely on Google AdSense or other advertising sources for income) is not a traditional job at an hourly wage where an individual is paid once for each hour worked.
With HubPages (and similar online work) one earns a residual rather than hourly income. Each Hub one publishes (assuming it is of good quality and evergreen) has the potential to continue producing income long after it has been published. For instance, a couple of my Hubs, How to Become a Fighter Pilot and How to Become a Commercial Pilot, both of which were written in November or December of 2006, began generating a couple of dollars a month initially but after the first two or three months the income from them has consistently averaged five to ten dollars or more a month.
Over the course of the four years between November-December of 2006 and today, Each of these two Hubs has probably earned me close to $400 per month ($800 for the two of them). Assuming I spent 4 hours on each or 8 hours total, my return on those 8 hours comes to $80 per hour and this average will only increase as, based on experience to date, I can expect each of them to continue to generate five to ten dollars or more every month for the forseeable future.
While eight hundred dollars in four years is not spectacular, I have continued to write and now have over 550 Hubs with most of them producing an average of a few cents to ten dollars or more per month. In the four years since I began writing for HubPages I have earned a total of $17,885.59 - the chart above displays my earnings for each year and the average payments I have received from Google AdSense each month of those years.
This isn’t bad for a job where you can work as much as you want, when you want and from where you want (while I usually write from home, this particular Hub is being written and published from the Holiday Inn in Barcelona, Spain where my wife and I are vacationing at the moment).
You can also take time off and still get paid. If I were to decide one morning to head to Canada, Europe or some other place in the world for the next month rather than going to my regular job and not bother to let my boss know that I was taking this impromptu vacation, let alone ask for the time off, I not only wouldn’t get paid for that time, I would get fired!
With HubPages I would not only be able to resume writing whenever I wanted, but also continue to get paid while away.
My youngest son, who writes as GreyFox on HubPages, is a perfect example of the benefits of residual income.
Seeing me win prize money from the contest HubPages sponsored in the Fall of 2006, he joined HubPages shortly after I did and wrote about 100 Hubs on topics for the contest. He did about as well as I did on the contest and then stopped writing after the contest ended in December 2006.
After a couple of months he began receiving about $101 or $102 every two to three months from Google. Despite his not continuing to write, he continued to receive the earnings every two to three months until this summer when he again began writing again on HubPages. With his renewed writing effort his income from writing has now risen to $100 or so every two months.
What other job can one simply walk away, unannounced, for a nearly 4 yeara and continue to get paid after three months of work? This is the beauty of residual income or income that keeps being generated from a past investment of time or money.
What My HubPage Earnings Have Allowed Me to Do
HubPages has been a source of additional income for me. I have tried to keep it separate from our other household income and use it for extras. Much of it has been used for business purposes, as I consider my HubPage and other writing a business. As such it has been used to purchase a laptop and a netbook computer as well as other equipment I use for my writing activities and for my online teaching.
I have also invested some for retirement and used some to make extra payments on bills, thereby paying them off faster. It has also come in handy to make up the difference between what we have needed for a major vacation, such as the European vacation my wife and I are enjoying to as I write this, and what we have been able to save out of the income from my wife's and my regular jobs.
Other Rewards I Have Enjoyed While Writing for HubPages
There is both a feeling of community as well as a feeling of being a part of an innovative and growing organization. Even though all of us Hubbers are freelance writers who don’t even get paid by HubPages (our income comes from Google, Amazon, eBay and Kontera) we are connected to a growing and dynamic organization that values us and makes us feel a part of their community.
Also, while I have never met them in person, there are many Hubbers who I consider to be friends because of our interactions on the site. I still remember signing on to HubPages early one Sunday morning in 2006 and receiving a message saying in effect URL not found.
After a few more unsuccessful tries I gave up and concluded that, like other Internet start-ups, HubPages had simply gone out of business over night. While I had had high hopes for making money on the site my initial feeling was one of loss as I felt like I had suddenly lost all contact with people I had been interacting with daily for the past three months. It was like leaving a job and moving to another city leaving co-workers behind.
Fortunately, the HubPages team was simply using that Sunday morning to go off line and make some upgrades and they were back on line within the hour. So, while HubPages is a great place to make money there is the people dimension which makes it different from other sites I have checked out or even written for.
Writing for HubPages has also been a great learning experience. I have learned much from Hubs by others that I have read. I have also learned much from the research I have done for my articles both about the topics I have written about as well as other, often unrelated, topics I have stumbled across while doing that research. My writing has broadened as I have branched out into new areas that I never would have imagined before joining HubPages.
Finally, the experience of writing for HubPages has taught me a lot about publishing and marketing on the Internet. This knowledge, plus the income stream generated by my Hubs, has enabled me to get together with my sons and brothers and sisters to plan a publishing venture in which we hope to publish the journal my Father wrote during World War II as well as other materials he wrote and saved during that period while serving in the Army in the Pacific during that war.
One of my sons (Sith Penguin on HubPages) and I recently completed a little pilot project trying our hand at digital publishing by publishing a calendar featuring our dog Chika, who I previously featured as my supposed assistant when I joined fellow Hubber Darlene Sabella in a challenge to write 30 Hubs in 30 Days. That calendar is now available on our store on Lulu.com.
Where we are spending our two week vacation.
My Second HubPage First article
This Hub was written, offline, while on a trans Atlantic flight from the U.S. to Spain a week and a half ago while en-route to a two week vacation in Europe (which, as I mentioned above, was paid for in part from my HubPage earnings).
We spent the first week on a seven day cruise in the Western Mediterranean and are currently half way through the second week visiting Barcelona, Spain.
Yesterday (Nov 9, 2010) I finished loading the pictures and publishing my Hub Remembering Veterans Day While Traveling in Europe, which I had written and uploaded the text for on November 7th while at sea. I then had to wait until yesterday to upload the pictures because the Internet on the ship was too slow.
Today (Nov 10th) I got up early and edited and uploaded the text and photos for this article. While my watch, which is on European time, said 6:30 a.m., my computer (which is still on Tucson time) read 10:30 (Nov 9th). I thus had the distinction of publishing this Hub the day before I actually hit the Publish button.
Some Great AdSense Advice from Fellow Hubber MikeNV
On January 13, 2011 fellow Hubber, MikeNV added the following advice in the comment section of this Hub. Because the advice so good and relevant to this Hub, I have copied the comment in its entirety and added it to the body of this Hub so it wouldn’t be overlooked.
If you are interested in making money by publishing on the web, you might want to check out Mike’s Hubs and links to his other sites.
Mike's Jan 13, 2011 Comment:
Enjoyed this read. One very simple thing people should do BEFORE they write a hub if they are targeting Adsense as their monetization method is this:
Find the 3 most popular keyword phrases (2 words or more) and check them in the Google Keyword Tool to make sure there are at least 5,000 Global searches for each phrase. I won't go into how and where to put them in your Article other than it is extremely important to get them worked into your title.
Then (AND THIS IS CRITICAL)... type each phrase into Google and look at the ads on the right hand side of the page. If there is less than 4 Advertisers you should probably pick a different set of keywords or niche entirely. A low volume of advertisers means there is not a lot of money being spent and you run the risk of getting Public Service Ads.
Google has a new tool that lets you check how many times relevant ads are displayed. With General Hubs that are not researched and targeted to keywords it's not uncommon to get a large percentage of what I call "Empty" ads... that is ads that are not targeted enough to make you any money.
While I'm not interested in people copying my Hubs based on Topic... I can tell you that it's not uncommon to have a large percentage of Adsense Clicks paying out in excess of $1.00 per click! And I do have days where I have clicks in excess of $3.00 per click in certain niches (Happy Guessing!). I've been with Adsense since it started in the Summer of 2003 and there is a ton of money to be made!